By Tony Wall, EAA 1226290
To celebrate 50 consecutive
years of fly-in conventions in Oshkosh, we’re featuring stories of Oshkosh told
by attendees remembering their special moments at EAA’s long-standing home. If
you or someone you know would like to share your story of Oshkosh, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My first Oshkosh experience didn’t
happen until 2016, but I had thought about it for many years.
The aviation in my blood comes from
both sides of my parents’ families. My great uncle on my dad’s side was a pilot
for many years. He gave me my first airplane ride in his 182 at the farm in
A few years before my uncle died
but after he had stopped flying, I asked him about the last airplane he owned.
He perked up said, “It was a 1976 Skylane, 7377 Sierra. I have a picture of it
right here.” He pulled out a faded picture from his wallet to show me (the same
one from my first airplane ride). “Bought it brand new from the Cessna dealer
in Denver. That was a great airplane.” He still carried his pilot certificate, too,
issued in 1955!
I never got to ride with my mom’s
brother when he was an active pilot, but he talked of the many trips to Oshkosh
for the air show, and that always stuck in my mind.
I couldn’t afford to finish my
pilot certificate as a kid in the ’80s, but I worked in airline operations for
a number of years, and that seemed to satisfy my aviation cravings.
In 2015, a friend had just
completed his Van’s RV-12 project and invited me for a ride. After that, I told
my wife, Tina (EAA 1226291), that I missed general aviation but was sure that
getting my certificate was far too expensive, especially 29 years after I gave
up the first time. She insisted that I try.
Her gift to me for my 50th birthday
was to help me get my certificate. With a lot of encouragement from her, I
started lessons again, and I managed to finish in six months.
That July, the same friend with the RV-12 invited me to go along to AirVenture 2016. That was a great experience in homebuilt camping. After that, I decided that maybe we could afford an airplane. Sure enough, we bought a 1973 Skyhawk and joined our local EAA chapter.
My wife and I flew our Skyhawk to
Oshkosh for AirVenture 2018. Due to impending weather along our route, our easy
overnight trip from Montana turned into a long, but relaxing, one-day trip all
the way to Oshkosh.
We arrived the Wednesday before
AirVenture. I think we were about the 10th aircraft in general aviation camping
and really enjoyed the quiet of those first few days. We enjoyed the hustle and
bustle of AirVenture, too, but those first few days were so nice. We decided
we’ll plan the same early arrival this year as well.
We’ve made some friends at
AirVenture and are looking forward to meeting up with them and making more
friends this year.