AirVenture 2009! – the Annual Event of a Lifetime

airventure-oshkosh-09It’s the event of a lifetime that happens every year. There is no other conference, convention, tradeshow or whatever you want to call it in any other industry or interest area that comes anywhere close to AirVenture.

EAA and AirVenture are all about engagement. Do you have a particular area of aviation that really turns you on? It’s there. Interested in space? You got to see the White Knight 2 fly. Fascinated by the advances in airliners? You saw the huge Airbus 380 do multiple passes, then land and taxi up to the ramp to be available for tours. Interested in antique airplanes? Which one? It’s there. Same with warbirds, aerobatic airplanes … you get the idea.

And it’s not just the aircraft, it’s the people. Want to meet Jack Pelton, Chairman and CEO of Cessna? You can walk right up to him in the Cessna exhibit. Want to see Sully Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles, the two pilots who landed the Airbus A320 in the Hudson? They roamed the grounds and were interviewed by David Hartman, formerly of ABC, in the Theater in the Woods.

Every kind of aircraft was at AirVenture Oshkosh

Interested in how women have fared through the years in aviation? Martha King and Peggy Chabrian (President of Women in Aviation International) conducted interviews of Dawn Seymour (a World-War II WASP), Lt. Colonel Jill Long (who flew 50-plus combat missions in Afghanistan in A-10s and is also an airshow pilot), Julie Clark (a former airline captain and an airshow pilot), and the most unbelievable of all, the inspiring Jessica Cox (who was born without arms and became a Sport Pilot flying an Ercourpe with no mechanical accommodations whatsoever). Among the questions Martha and Peggy asked these remarkable women was, “Who helped you along the way?” The stories were moving.

Panel Discussion with Miles O'Brien, Patty Wagstaff, Rich Sugden, and John and Martha King

Panel Discussion with Miles O’Brien, Patty Wagstaff, Rich Sugden, and John and Martha King

For those interested in how airplanes can be a tool to help the environment, Martha and I, along with Miles O’Brien, Patty Wagstaff and Rich Sugden, participated in a panel discussion after the showing of “Over Africa”—a movie about the Lindbergh Foundation’s  project to support the training of the pilots of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Patty started this outstanding program, and the rest of us were delighted to participate this year.

meeting-oshkosh-folks

Meeting some of the great folks at Oshkosh

And talk about people—Martha and I must have talked with thousands. We wanted to get the message out about the new Cessna Sport/Private Pilot course that we’ve been working on for over a year. AirVenture is the place to do it. The editor or writer you want to talk with is right there. You might check out my my interview on AVWeb. I tell Russ Niles in that interview that I think the course’s emphasis on scenario-based training and preflight risk management analysis just may change the way people learn to fly forever.

Now that we are back from AirVenture, Martha and I are just exhausted—and how could anyone not be? It is an aviation smorgasbord without end. It is the event of a lifetime—until next year.

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