While on its surface, EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, looks like it’s all about aircraft—the airplanes, rotorcraft, VTOLs, and other aerial conveyances that take us into the air. But really? Most folks will tell you the real draw is the people who come together to look at, fly, talk about, and dream about said aircraft. Your aviation friends and family are the real stars of the show—but you also don’t want to miss out on a few special folks that you’ll get the chance to meet here—and nowhere else on Earth.
You can catch the ultimate in airshow stylings in the air above show center—but did you know there are opportunities to meet and greet the performers themselves once they come back to terra firma? Stars like Michael Goulian and Patty Wagstaff often host meet-ups at their respective sponsors’ booths—for example, look to Whelen Aviation Technologies and their big black-and-yellow exhibit near the flight line for Goulian’s schedule.
You can also track down other top names on the airshow scene, such as Matt Younkin, Vicky Benzing, Chuck Aaron, and the AeroShell Aerobatic Team. And if the warbird flyovers cause your pulse to race, head over to the Warbird area on the show grounds to find your favorite airplanes—and their pilots.
Phil Lockwood, CEO of Lockwood Aviation Supply and Rotax engine guru, always draws a crowd for good reason. This year at AirVenture, he’ll host a forum on the Rotax 9-series powerplants, with service and maintenance tips pulled from his position leading the No. 1 service provider in the U.S. Catch Lockwood on Wednesday, July 27, from 1 to 2:15 p.m.
You won’t run into EAA legend Paul Poberezny, as he flew west in 2013. But you can learn from those in his legacy, at Paul’s Vintage Hangar. A&Ps Jim Hamilton and Don Bartlet take participants through the ins and outs of those skills needed to make a serious restoration project fly, such as welding and fabric covering. First session: Monday, July 25, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Get Your Training On
Want to know some real stars at the show? Head over to the new Pilot Proficiency Center and meet the rockstar CFIs leading the training sessions there. You’ll want to plan some real time to focus on your proficiency, featuring instruction in the center’s flight training devices from Redbird Flight Simulations. FLYING’s own Meg Godlewski is one of those star instructors this year.
The FAA has returned to AirVenture after a pandemic-induced hiatus, and you can find them—and forums for WINGS program credit—at their new location in the International Federal Pavilion at Hangar D. They join forces with agencies from the U.S., Canada, and the Bahamas. In fact, one of the sessions is on flying to the Bahamas—a great tool for pilots if you’ve never been there, or if you haven’t been in the last couple of years. The first session (of several) is on Monday, July 25, from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. at the Pavilion.
Low-Key Rock Stars
Want even more proficiency tips? Check out the Fly Like a Pro Panel with Sean Elliott of EAA, Charlie Precourt of Northrop Grumman Space Systems, Karen Kalishek of the National Association of Flight Instructors, Mike Goulian, Mike Graham of the National Transportation Safety Board, and Richard McSpadden of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. With a focus on attitude, technical knowledge, realistic scenarios, training, equipment, and debriefs, this august group of experts will provide you with rock solid advice you can apply to your own proficiency plan—and it takes place on Friday, July 29, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Forum Stage 5.
There are also pioneering women who return to AirVenture each year—and you can catch a number of them at the WAI Connect breakfast hosted by Women in Aviation International. You’ll need to sign up for tickets ahead of time. The gathering takes place on Wednesday, July 27, at 8 a.m., and this year it’s at the PHP tent on the EAA grounds near the Forest Home. Past speakers have included astronaut Eileen Collins—and you never know who will show up this year.
All times and locations subject to change—check the main EAA AirVenture schedule on eaa.org/airventure for updates and to build your own calendar to track them at the event.