The First-Timer’s Guide to Oshkosh ’22

Planning is the key to an amazing experience at aviation’s biggest event.

One simply does not go to EAA AirVenture. AirVenture—or simply, Oshkosh—is arguably the Queen Mother of all aviation events. It’s something you do

It can be overwhelming, as there is so much to see and experience. This is especially true if it is your first visit to the event. 

FLYING has a few tips to help you prepare for this awesome experience. 

Jumpseat: Oshkosh First-Timers
[FLYING Archives]

How to Plan Your Day

When you get to the grounds, make a note of where you are parked. Put it in your phone or write it on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket. At the end of the day when you’re tired, it’s easy to forget where you parked, especially if you are using a rental car and don’t remember the license plate number or make and model.

When you walk into the grounds, you’ll likely be handed a program that includes a map. Hang on to it. Use this map to plan the most expedient routes from place to place, depending on what you wish to see.

[Courtesy: EAA]

The program also includes a schedule of events for each day.

The sun, heat, and walking will tax your endurance. Note the tram routes published in the program. Use the trams to conserve your energy for getting from place to place.

Visit the exhibit hangars before noon. They can get very hot and very crowded from about 1 p.m. on, although they often empty out during the afternoon airshow. Be judicious about how much swag you pick up from the exhibit hangars. 

If you fly to the event in your own airplane, consider the option to ship the swag home. The post office, FedEx, UPS, and DHL often have kiosks on site just for this purpose. Take advantage of them rather than risking overloading your aircraft.

If You Are With a Group

For persons traveling as part of a group (like a family), it can be helpful to use identifying shirts—some of the more savvy AirVenture visitors outfit the whole clan in the same bright color T-shirt so they can spot one another in the crowd. Rainbow tie-dye or high-visibility yellow like construction workers wear is a popular choice.

Hold a briefing before you head out for the day. Synchronize watches and establish a meeting place. “At such and such time, we will meet by the ‘Brown Arch’ (points to arch on map to make sure everyone in the group knows where it is) or at the (insert name of aircraft manufacturer exhibit) on the midway, etc.”

Do not rely on cellphones while on the grounds, because with all those people, the towers can become overloaded and calls and texts do not go through. 

If you want a special clothing item that tends to be popular—like one of those aviation-themed Hawaiian shirts—get it early in the week. By the second day, the more popular sizes—the Ls and XLs—are usually gone. 

Make time for the special places, such as the museum and the seaplane base. Both are excellent places to relax in the afternoon. 

Must-See Airplanes at EAA AirVenture - FLYING Magazine
It’s fine to be excited around the airplanes at AirVenture, but don’t get carried away. [FLYING Archive]

Other Important Notes

  • Find shade for the afternoon and the airshow. Under a tree or under a wing are good places to be.
  • Never walk through a campsite. Use the paths between rows of aircraft rather than cutting across someone’s space.
  • Never, ever touch an airplane. This is the aviation version of dancing with another person’s mate or picking up someone’s baby without permission. If the aircraft owner is there, you can ask to get closer, but don’t lean on the aircraft or grab the propeller or help yourself into the cockpit “just to get a picture.” 
  • As you walk through aircraft display areas, watch out for tie-downs, golf carts, and aircraft movement.
  • Be extra careful walking around airplanes. Sometimes you can walk into a wing or a propeller or trip over a tiedown while trying to get that perfect photograph.
  • When you stop to rest, try to do it in the shade. Take a few sips of water and stretch your legs. It will make a big difference for your stamina at the event.
  • If you make a mistake, like walking or driving in the wrong place and are taken to task for it by one of the volunteers, apologize and make the correction. Don’t yell at the volunteers who help run the event. AirVenture could not get along without them.
  • Most importantly, have a good time!

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