First Impressions of Oshkosh

By Catherine Warmkessel

This year I decided to tag along with my dad to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh because I had heard nothing but great things and I wanted to experience it myself. After just one week, I definitely agree that Oshkosh and the people who attend are insanely kind. We camped at Camp Scholler, and our camping neighbor even let my family borrow their car and golf cart!

Even though the fly-in convention officially started on July 24, I began preparing in early June, and my trip began on July 14. To prepare, my father and I did an annual inspection on our Trinidad TB-20. Even though annuals aren’t that hard, they still take a while, especially when a part needs to be shipped. The annual took us about 6 weeks from start to finish, and we test flew it about two days before we left. 

After leaving Watsonville, California, we flew about 5 hours to West Yellowstone, Montana, where we spent a few days. One day we took a tour and saw lots of thermal features and animals such as bison, elk, and coyotes. Beyond the beauty of Yellowstone, I saw the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Rockies in a way I’ve never seen, thanks to flying in a small airplane.

After we left Yellowstone, we flew straight to Oshkosh. We got there about a week before the air show started, so we just spent our time hanging out and preparing. On one of the days, we got to take a golf cart and drive from the North 40 to the South 40, and we even saw the tiles get put down in front of the Brown Arch! 

As the fly-in convention started, there were more chances for me to get involved and meet people. I made new friends when we made jambalaya with other campers, camped with the “Camp Bacon” group, and ate ice cream at the Oasis.

As I met new people, I learned about their aviation careers; some of them had really cool experiences that I wouldn’t have heard about any other way. Offering to help make jambalaya allowed me to meet even more new people that weren’t my dad’s friends. I got to hear all of their stories too and how they got interested in aviation.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the people to be so kind and generous. People helped us in any way they could, from giving us a ride to the gate to helping us with our tent. During one of the storms, our tent half fell over, but before we could get out of the tent, our neighbor was helping to put it back up! 

After AirVenture ended, my father and I took five flights in three days to return home. We first landed in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and took a rest day, then we flew to Rawlins, Wyoming, and spent the night because of a storm, and on our last day, we arrived home.

With all good things, there are always a couple things that aren’t so good. Coming from California, I wasn’t used to thunderstorms, humidity, and heat. It was easy to get dehydrated or overheated. Even though there are lots of places to get stuff, it can get expensive. For example, a Dove bar costs $4! My dad was generous to bring me along, but he provided very limited ice cream money.

Overall, I’m very glad I went on this trip. I originally agreed to go because it was something to do. But I ended up enjoying it so much that I’m now counting down until next year when I get to go again.

Because my dad is a CFI, I even ended up getting 28 hours of high-performance complex retract flight time for my log book! I know I’m not the main demographic people think of when they think of aviation and air shows, but I had a lot of fun meeting new people and learning more about the aviation community. I hope to see more parts of this and other air shows aimed at connecting with young women interested in joining the aviation community.

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