Making the trip to Oshkosh in late July is aviation’s version of going to Mecca. Whether you fly in or drive in, camp for a week or just go for the day, there is a lot more to do than just watch the daily air show and walk the flight line admiring aircraft (both of which are highly enjoyable).
AirVenture offers more than 1,000 forums and seminars on all kinds of topics that can benefit your club, as well as 800 exhibitors where you can shop for things—often at a discount—that your club may want. It’s also an opportunity to meet other members from flying clubs around the country to share ideas and best practices. The AOPA Flying Club team will host a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost: The Wonderful World of Flying Clubs seminar on Friday at 4 p.m. at the AOPA Pavilion as well as the ever-popular Flying Club Social Event, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, also in the AOPA Pavilion.
If you’ve never been to Oshkosh before, it’s important to plan your trip in advance. The EAA AirVenture website has lots of great information. The first thing you should determine is where to stay. If you don’t plan to pitch a tent next to your aircraft, you will find hotel space is limited and fills up fast for miles around. Plan ahead or bring a tent.
If you are flying in, reading the NOTAM is an absolute must. For one week, Wittman Regional Airport is the busiest in the world and the Fisk VFR Arrival procedure to get in is like nothing you’ve probably experienced before. There are plenty of resources to help explain what you need to do before you hear the instructions to “Rock Your Wings” and the tower telling you what color dot to land on.
Once you’ve arrived, AirVenture can be overwhelming with all the seminars, speakers, and activities. Make a list of things your club is interested in and make a plan. Take a look through the list of exhibitors—there’s everything from the major avionics, engine, or aircraft manufacturers to companies selling flagpoles, wine mixes, and art. There are four large Hangars, A through D, filled with all kinds of products to peruse along with individual company tents or pavilions. The best bet is download the AirVenture App or pick up a program with a map and schedule of speakers and workshops.
If your club is thinking about making upgrades to your aircraft, Oshkosh is a great place to get a look at the different products on the market and to talk to representatives from the various companies to determine what is best for your club. Most companies offer Oshkosh specials, so doing your homework on products and pricing before you arrive will help you determine what deals are too good to pass up.
It's also good to start looking through the forums and speakers. There are hundreds of topics about safety, maintenance, and technology that might be of interest to club members looking to enhance their skills or knowledge. For instance, Mike Busch will be talking about Civil Aviation, Inc., a Milwaukee-based flying club that took it’s IO-360 to 5,000 hours, which was part of the May 2023 Club Connector Article about taking your engine past TBO.
Besides the forums and seminars that relate to the operational aspects of a club, there are numerous other topics that may be of interest to a club or its members. There are talks about flying internationally, public benefit flying, and type club meetings where you can learn more about a specific aircraft. In general, if it is aviation related, you’re likely to find it at Oshkosh. The key to making the most of your club’s trip to AirVenture is planning ahead and knowing what you want to see, learn about or buy while you soak in Aviation’s largest fly-in.