For a year, I’ve posted my take on attractions, mainly around the area in which I live. That being said, I’ve never written about a festival or event. I feel that by the time I experience it and publish the blog, the event will be done till the next year. By the time it rolls around next year, features, prices, dates and times may have all changed. So, Even though they’re exciting, I avoid writing about them.
However, my experience Friday begs that I make an exception to that rule. The EAA Airventure fly-in convention is one of a kind, as it is the largest of its type. That alone is blogworthy. Throw in a very special tribute to a group, that included my father, and I feel I have no choice but to add it to the chronicles.
I’m sure you have heard of the ‘Old Glory Honor Flight’. It really is an amazing, all volunteer and non-profit, organization. It’s sole mission, as it is in the name, is to honor wartime veterans by flying them to Washington DC. There, they can see the war memorials, the National Museum of Natural History and few other sights in the City.
With all that, the flight would have been an extraordinary event for the 120 Vietnam vets on board the American Airlines 757. However, I believe the greatest moment, and I’m only speculating, was when they arrived home.
So, on with my Friday adventure.
I arrive in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at around 1:50 pm. I’m not real familiar with the EAA grounds, as it’s quite a large area, so I head for what I know. That would be the EAA Museum, which is open year round. My blog EAA Aviation Museum- mega interesting was my experience at this unique venue, earlier this year when there were fewer people meandering about.
I find a parking area across from the museum, figuring I’ll make things easy and park in this half full field. Besides, with it being early afternoon, I doubt I’ll find any openings in the lot closer to the grounds.
I don’t know where I’m going so I follow the crowd. They line into the museum and down a flight of stairs. Here, staff members are selling wristbands behind counters. I, because I’m a family member of an Honor Flight veteran, already have a free wristband . I should also mention, I was given a parking pass that also saved me $10. It’s a pretty sweet deal, being as dad tools around the nations capital I can enjoy a world class event.
Outside glass double doors, workers are shuttling people to the grounds via school buses. So I take the bus. Soon after leaving the shuttle behind, I find the main gate. I’m a little dismayed, as I see many people having there bags checked. I could have packed a lunch. I grab a map at the info booth and am on my way.
Inside, it’s like a carnival or circus except, instead of exotic animals or human freaks of nature, there is aircraft. You name it, it’s here. Military aircraft, helicopters, gyros, the smallest jet known to man and one of the largest.
With so much to check out, I don’t know where to start. I glance ahead, on this broad avenue filled with aviation enthusiasts, and see a giant tail looming against a cloudy sky. One aircraft comes to mind, as I have seen this tail towering over trees at Eilson AFB in Alaska. I know it has to be the C-5 galaxy, a giant cargo plane used by the USAF.
Little do I know, I’m in for a bigger treat. Sitting next to the C-5, like a mosquito approaching the belly of a horse, I see the single engine, one man fighter I maintained during my stint in the USAF. Well, its not the exact same one, but its the same model, an F-16 Falcon. I can’t wait for my mother, sister and nephews to arrive so I can show them.
An air show starts with the impressive F-22’s. I’m dazzled by the maneuvers, as the fighter climbs vertically to an impressive altitude. About that time, I receive a call from my mother. I battle the sound of a roaring jet over head to figure out where to meet everybody.
After we meet, I show them the C-5 and my pride and joy. The air show continues as we check out helicopters, fighter jets, private aircraft and more. After sometime, as the air show constantly fills the lulls in conversation, we decide to find some place to eat. We sit at a table and have our eyes glued skyward.
This air show has it all. Skydivers, fighter jets, stunt planes, helicopters and everything imaginable. We decide to venture a grassy field close to the airstrip to get a better look.
At a quarter of six, I mention to my mother we should head to Boeing Plaza, an area of concrete close to the runway. This is where the best part of the veterans day will take place.
As anybody knows, when the Vietnam Era Vets came home they were treated coldly. So, today, to show these men that they are appreciated, a mass of people wait for the 757 to cheer these men on.
We wait patiently as, the air show ends and everybody is anticipating the flights arrival. Finally, in the sky, we see the bright landing light against the clouds. Minutes later, the Jet rolls near the crowd.
We have American flags and wave them furiously as I’m waiting for a glimpse of dad. Finally, after a struggle to get the ramp in place, the veterans leave the plane in a single file line. People are cheering, a military band plays familiar songs and I’m a little choked up as I see my dad, shaking hands with the volunteers and emotional as well.
There is a brief ceremony, then we meet dad. I shake his hand and his face beams. This is great thing that ‘Old Glory Honor Flight’ does. I was glad to play a role and enjoy EAA for a bit as well.
And to my dad ‘Thanks for all you do!’
Thanks to Shannon, my sister, for some pretty outstanding photos!