Tag Archives: EAA AirVenture

10 Things Every #AvGeek Should Do Before They Die

Having been an AvGeek since the age of six and an aviation journalist for 22 years, I have a fine sense of what every AvGeek should do before they die. Below is my list, with the caveat that not everyone will be able to do these things. But can’t we dream?

1.  Go inside a working FAA control tower. Back in November 2008, I was out at Washington Dulles International Airport for the opening of its fourth runway. As part of that visit, I got to go into the control tower with then-acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell. The views were amazing!

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2.  Attend one of the three major air shows. I’ve covered Singapore, Farnborough and Paris. They are busy, spread out and just amazing, from the fantastic air shows (I got to see the last Air France Concorde land at the 2003 Paris Air Show), to the crush of press conferences to visits to company chalets (I still dream about the meals I had at the Airbus press chalets).

3.  Fly in a World War II aircraft. I attended a Honeywell media event where we were flown in a Boeing B29 Superfortress, where I got to sit in the bombardier seat. Awesome!!

4.  Do a behind-the-scenes airport tour. I’ve gotten to do several, including Hartsfield-Jackson, Los Angeles International, Washington National, Washington, Dulles, McCarran International, Phoenix Sky Harbor and Salt Lake City, to name a few. Seeing the inner workings of a baggage system and hanging out on the ramp are experiences not to be missed.

View from McCarran operations tower. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

5.  Sit in the jump seat on a commercial flight. Before 9/11, I got to do this several times, including: a Virgin Atlantic 747 taking off from London Heathrow; a Crossair Avro RJ landing at London City Airport; and a Continental Express Embraer ERJ-145 landing at Washington National Airport.

6.  Visit great air/aviation museums. Of course I’ve been to both Air & Space Museums in D.C. (I even got a sneak peek of the Udvar-Hazy Center on the day the Enola Gay arrived), the Swedish Air Force Museum, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Pima Air & Space Museum, the Palm Springs Air Museum of Flying, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Jetwhine's Rob Mark at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

7.  Do a ferry flight. Ferry flights are when airlines take delivery of new aircraft and fly them back home. I’ve done several flights from San Jose dos Campos, Brazil, to the U.S. (with stops in Belem and spots in the Caribbean including Martinique) to deliver ERJ-145s and a flight from Linkoping, Sweden, to Minneapolis-St. Paul via Iceland, Greenland (cold!) and Gander to deliver a Saab 340 turboprop to Mesaba Airlines.

8.  Attend the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This, kids, is the world’s largest air show. During the week of the show, Wittman Regional Airport becomes home to the world’s busiest air traffic control tower, handling more than 10,000 aircraft. See aircraft ranging from the Boeing 787 to a spectacular display of warbirds. Check out exhibits, air shows and vendors, and meet up with a who’s who in aviation. Remind me to tell you of my encounter with Capt. Sullenberger another time…

Photo by Benet J. Wilson

9.  Take a general aviation discovery flight. Back in the day, one of the reporters on my staff was a pilot, and she took me up in a Piper Cherokee to see the fall foliage over Virginia, and even let me fly. If you have Living Social or Groupon in your area, they always have discovery flight deals. If not, go to your local airport and ask the flight school to do a discovery flight.

10.  Fly in a hot air balloon. When I first became an aviation journalist, I attended the fall meeting of the Regional Airline Association, in Palm Springs. Bombardier hosted a media day, and a highlight was a hot air balloon trip over the valley of the sun.

Random Aviation Photo

This week is the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture, the world’s largest air show, held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The show is so big — 10,000+ aircraft — that Wittman Regional Airport becomes the world’s busiest for that week. The last time I attended was 2012. Below is a shot I took of a 2007 Mellish Everett GS-2 Sportsman on floats. Enjoy!

Best Of Aviation Queen: Random Aviation Photo

Editor’s note: kids, I’m still in Orlando this week, so you get Best Ofs. This one comes from my first Oshkosh show. 

In July, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream — to attend the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisc.  I could have spent a month there and still not have had enough time to see everything.  I was walking down one of the main roads when I saw one of the rare Beechcraft Starships.  The Starship, a unique 8-seat, rear twin prop business aircraft, was originally designed as the successor to the ubiquitous King Air turboprop.  Enjoy!

Photo by Benet J. WIlson

Best Of Aviation Queen: Top 10 Reasons Why I Loved Attending EAA AirVenture/Oshkosh

Editor’s note: kids, I’m attending a journalism convention in Orlando this week, so you get Best Ofs. I’ll be back on Monday, Aug. 5, I promise! This one ran back in July 2011, after I attended my first AirVenture show. Enjoy!

Kids, let’s be real – we all know that Aviation Week actually pays me to cover my hobby, my lifelong passion. This past week, I was smack in the center of the aviation geek universe, covering the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Air Show in Oshkosh, Wis. For the uninitiated, more than 500,000 people and more than 10,000 aircraft converge on the headquarters of EAA, based at Wittman Regional Airport and go into an aviation bacchanal. Folks fly and drive in from across the globe to meet, learn and have fun with like-minded people. You can check out AvWeek’s Oshkosh coverage here.

Thanks to my friend and Airplane Geeks host Rob Mark (@Jetwhine), I stayed in the Fairfield Inn Oshkosh, a stone’s throw away from the show. But the VAST majority of folks actually camp, on the airport grounds and surrounding areas. You see everything from a tarp slung over an aircraft wing to tents, to RVs to tricked-out, rock-star-looking tour buses.

But I digress. I’m giving myself the nearly impossible task of ranking my top 10 events from Oshkosh, God help my soul. Airplane Geek David Vanderhoof (@dmvanderhoof) said I’d have to expand to 20, but I love a good challenge. So here goes.

10. The Wittman Regional Airport Tower. For one week, this average-looking air traffic control tower becomes the busiest in the world – busier that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, busier than London Heathrow and busier than Singapore’s Changi — handling the in-and-out flights and daily air show demonstrations.

Beechcraft Starship

9. Fifi, the only B-29 bomber still flying AND The Beechcraft Starship. The Commemorative Air Force has lovingly restored this titan of World War II, and Oshkosh attendees, for a donation, could take a tour of this piece of history. The Starship, a 6- to 8-seat business aviation turboprop, was designed to be the successor to the popular King Air. According toWikipedia, FAA has nine active registrations on the Starship.

8. MyTransponder.com. The aviation podcasting/video/blogging universe is lovingly overseen by Rod Rakic and Mike Miley. And they were out in full force at Oshkosh, in a tricked-out RV that doubled as a mobile studio, coffee/food dispensary and hangout for those documenting the events at Oshkosh. I was honored to hang out with a great group of folks the night before I departed.

7. Embraer Executive Jets. Wednesday it rained cats and dogs at the show, and it was a touch chilly. We were all scheduled to attend a breakfast press conference being held at their tent. Not only did they have hot coffee and hot chocolate, we got rain ponchos that protected us for the rest of the day.

Ford’s Fly-In Theater

6. Fly-In Theater. Across the street from Camp Scholler (probably the most popular campground), was this outdoor movie theater, sponsored by Ford. You bring a blanket or chair and sit out among the stars to see a different movie every night. And did I mention the popcorn is free? Monday night’s feature was “Top Gun,” a film, amazingly enough, I had never seen. And the bonus was we had an actual Top Gun instructor introduce the film. My fellow Airplane Geek Dan Webb (@danwebbage) is now the only person on earth not to see this movie.

5. JetBlue Airways. The New York-based carrier flew in its “I Heart NY” Airbus A320 into the show on Wednesday and did free tours all day, complete with a bag of Blue Chips. I was thrilled to see some friends that work there who came on the flight, including COO Rob Maruster, who I worked with at Delta Air Lines. And a BIG bonus for me? I got a Twitter shout-out from CEO David Barger for all my #OSH11 JetBlue Tweets and photos!

4. What Just Flew By?I felt like I was actually living Airplane Geeks Historian David Vanderhoof’s blog. There were planes on the ground and planes in the air, making it really hard to decide where to focus!

3. The photos/videos of Jo Hunter (@futureshox). A group of us went to have dinner at Red Robin Oshkosh (if you go, get Robin to be your waitress), and I met Jo, who happens to be one of my Twitter followers. She showed me herubercool time-lapse video of Oshkosh preparations. And check out all her aviation films, on YouTube, here.

Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher

2. The Australians. Regular listeners of the Airplane Geeks podcast know that Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron (who literally sees the world through rose-colored glasses) offer up an informative, but funny take on all things Australian aviation with their Plane Crazy Down Underpodcast. They also do the Australia desk for the Airplane Geeks podcast. I’m a BIG fan and we’ve corresponded by Twitter and Skype, but we had never met – until Oshkosh. If you think they’re funny on the air, they’re even better live. And check out the July 25 edition of Airplane Geeks, which has them all together.

1. And speaking of Steve and Grant, the number one entry is the people attending Oshkosh. I met literally hundreds of folks, many who shouted “Aunt Benet” when we met. I met so many of my Twitter fans that I’ve admired for years, and it was very humbling to me when people came up and said they were fans of my work. I want to list every one of them, but I’m afraid I’d miss someone and offend them. But I WILL give a big shout out to the 2 guys who pushed my Chevy Aveo out of the mud at Camp Scholler around midnight Wednesday.

 

Random Aviation Photo

I had the chance to go to my second EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis.  I love the great mix of military, commercial and private aircraft that show up every year.  I was out on the Phillips 66 Plaza, where the heavy metal resides.  I had ducked under a U.S. Air Force C17 cargo jet to get some relieve from the sun. I snapped this picture of the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital Douglas DC-10.  Enjoy!