A Pilot’s Summer Camp

So you’re a private pilot!  You’ve worked hard and passed your written exam.  You then fly all the necessary hours, paid all those rental fees and passed your checkride. Congratulations!  That was hard work.  Now what?  What things will you do with your new found wings?  Yeah yeah, you already know all about the $100 hamburger and of course, you plan to fly friends and family around the basin.  But what else do pilots do with their super awesome slick new pilot’s license?

One of the fun things we do every summer is attend the world’s largest fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  It’s called Airventure and it is hosted by EAA.   For one week every year in July, 10,000 airplanes and 500,000 people converge on a sleepy little town in the north.  Bring your friends, bring your airplane and camp under the wing.  Come meet all the vendors you’ve been reading about.  See the coolest airshows and take courses.  Learn a new skill or engage with vendors.  There’s so much to do and no way to do it all.  You can walk inside military planes, play with brand new Garmin avionics, sit inside a brand new Cessna or find used parts for your project plane.  Maybe you’ll run into John and Martha King like we did the first year we went.  

Camping under the wing is an experience like no other.  Be prepared for rain but have fun in the sun.  There’s a general store for conveniences and showers and toilets nearby.  You’re neighbors will become new friends and you’ll come back with memories for a lifetime.  

The trips there and back are part of the fun.  From Southern California, the trip takes about four legs and overall 12 hours depending on the speed of your aircraft.  If you’re going to fly it yourself, watch your weight and balance.  Really do it this time!  When you load up with camping gear, you may tend to over do it.  Also, pick a few destinations with low fuel prices and some place you may want to see.  If they have a good A&P on staff just in case (such as Dinaland in Vernal, UT) then give that location a second look for a pitstop.  

Airventure is a must see for every pilot.  At least once, make your way to Oshkosh and get your photo taken under the brown arch.  And if you’re flying out of Fullerton, CA make sure you get in the annual group photo.  We’ll see you there!