Get the Most Out of OSH

My bags are packed. The venerable V-tail is perky and ready. Even the weather looks like it ought to cooperate for my trip to aviation's equivalent of the Promised Land -- Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the annual EAA AirVenture.

If you're looking forward to the same pilgrimage next week, there might be a few checklist items that will help you maximize the time you spend hoofing your way along the ultimate flightline of fantasy. The only thing that can dampen the joy of your visit to Oshkosh is the realization that, in the confusion, you missed the perfect opportunity to meet someone special or check out the product of your dreams in person.

So here are a few tips. First, take the time to scan the list of exhibitors one by one. It's one of the most boring things you'll do, but the catalog of exhibitors is a failsafe checklist for any and all manufacturers, service providers and anything else you'll find under the big top at Oshkosh. Once you've ticked off or highlighted all the must-sees, highlight their locations in the outdoor exhibit areas or the exhibit halls. That way, you can move in logical fashion from one to the next -- and be prepared for your visit. This year is the first for a major redesign of the show grounds, so even veterans will have to do some homework to get their bearings. Unashamed commercial message -- be sure to stop by the new location for the Flying Magazine tent nearby the control tower Sure, it's great fun to just wander and be surprised by what you find in the next tent or booth, but remember -- the show only lasts a week.

Don't forget the airplanes you might want to see. Warbirds to the north; Homebuilts, then Vintage in the middle; and Light Sport and Ultralights to the south. And don't forget that some of the most exciting airplanes arrive late or leave early. One circuit might not be enough. And sometimes some of the most interesting airplanes are sprinkled among the run-of-the-mill cruisers in the regular parking areas. Watch for large groupings of similar aircraft types as they often arrange to park together.

Of course, you'll want to examine the list of forums and seminars, especially if you're in the process of building or restoring an airplane, or thinking about it. And don't forget EAA's unique Pioneer Airport; the world class EAA museum; and the evening programs in the Theatre in the Woods. To study up on these details before you take off for the Heartland, carve out some quality time at home, kick your shoes off, and go to

And if you can't make it to the show this year, watch your email inbox for a special bonus edition of the Flying eNewsletter next Tuesday -- followed by our regular issue on Thursday.

Call to action: If you have any tips of your own you'd like to share, or have any questions about flying technique you'd like answered, send me a note at We'd love to hear from you.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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