A Pilot Pilgrimage
Aside from usually great flying weather, July has come to mean one
thing to most every pilot: Oshkosh. This annual event that started as
a get-together for pilots interested in building their own private
aircraft has transformed into THE aviation event of the year for
anyone that has (or dreams of having) their own wings. Pilots from
across the country, and many from around the world, are descending on
Oshkosh, Wisconsin this week to share their love of aviation. I’ve
known many pilots that plan their entire year to make sure they can
make it to at least some portion of this week-long event, with most
planning to fly themselves to Wisconsin.
While the focus of Oshkosh is and will always be private aviation, the
event has also attracted the business jet and commercial aircraft
builders, making it truly a one-stop shop for every aspect of
piloting. The massive display grounds and aircraft parking areas at
the airport make it quite easy to forget that there are daily air show
displays going on overhead and I can guarantee that one week is
certainly not enough time to take in all that Oshkosh has to offer.
Moreover, Oshkosh and its sponsor (the Experimental Aircraft
Association) are both strong reminders that the joys of flying do not
stop on the runway, but are carried forward throughout our lives via
the camaraderie that aviators share with each other and their
communities. Nonprofit associations like the LeRoy W Homer Jr.
Foundation, AOPA and EAA not only tie aviators together, but serve as
a conduit between aviation and our communities. This philanthropic
and communal nature that bonds most pilots together has kept the
aviation community thriving throughout the first century of human
flight and will continue to provide its heartbeat in the future.
Whether or not you ever dream of sitting in the cockpit, I would
encourage everyone who reads this blog to plan at least one pilgrimage
to Oshkosh in your lifetime. I’m willing to bet that your first trip
will not be your last.