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Oshkosh 1998:
Email Response

I received an email from Mike Pittelkow while he was browsing this site, explaining a few of the things I wondered about. This is his note:

Just read your bit on Oshkosh. Was poking around for something else and ran across your page... what a small world! (I'm Mike Pittelkow... used to do the MR2 FAQ...)

I've been going to Oshkosh since I was a wee tike (I was 6 the first year I made the pilgrimage) It's changed a lot. It used to be that there was a flight line area, and a "general admission" area. you had to be an EAA member or airman to get onto the flight line. In general, I liked this arrangement a lot, you don't get people putting their kids on the wing of your airplane, stepping on and breaking your wheel pants, etc. A couple years ago they changed everything to general admission, it got REALLY crowded, all the time, the food turned down, the prices went up, and the airshows declined.

There are two food vendors on the airport, McDonalds, and a smaller private firm that EAA has done business with for years (in the big, hot tents) I stongly recommend the tent food. Not cheap, but it is usually pretty good. Breakfasts are excellent (usually)

The good news is, EAA noticed. This year the flight line will be EAA members only.

With the price of Aviation fuel going up so fast, a lot of exhibitors just can't afford to fly their aircraft in the airshows as much as they used to. You used to see large flights (a dozen or more) of mustangs, and the occasional mustang aerobatic demonstration. the thing that most people forget is that every airplane at the show is there because someone brought it - EAA doesn't pay anyone to come and exhibit. Consequently, people are getting disappointed that few warbirds fly as much as they used to at the show - the owners simply aren't interested in burning $1k worth of fuel (formation practice, holding outside the airshow, demonstration...) There is talk of EAA subsidizing fuel for performances, but I don't know what's happened with that recently.

The Volkswagon bugs were purchased when the airshow was still in Rockford, IL in the late 60's. They don't get a lot of use (only during the airshow) and work great. They're painted in rather odd colors to make them easy to follow - they used to be used a lot for directing aircraft parking. (rockford kicked EAA out, they didn't want the traffic. Too bad, the airshow funds most of oshkosh for the whole year!)

The reason the guys are ripping back and forth along the flight line is to keep people off the skirts. There are a lot of people that used to walk out onto the runway skirts for that "great picture" - it's almost caused some accidents. If there weren't so many -really stupid- people, it wouldn't be necessary. People just seem to think that barrier ropes don't apply to them.

I enjoy going to oskosh every year, but it's gotten really commercial int eh past 5 years or so. Sun-N-Fun in lakeland, FL is really becoming preferred for me (it's in the spring), mostly because it isn't so huge. All the same stuff shows up, but not nearly as many people.

I usually stay out in Fremont, WI at a fishing camp. Costs me about $10 a night per person for a cabin with a shower, beds good enough to crash on, etc.

Not sure if you've had the chance, but if not, be sure and check into the EAA museum. It's got a lot of really historic aircaft, and some fantastic restorations (like the XP-51)

Anyway, just thought I'd share some thoughts....

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