All the sky’s a stage at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture, an annual week-long event at Oshkosh, Wisconsin in which thousands of pilots from all over the world gather to showcase their historic, high-tech and experimental aircraft. It’s equal parts air show, trade show, educational workshop and reunion, and its lure for aviation buffs is undeniable.
The annual event, which began in 1953 with fewer than 100 attendees, now draws more than 750,000 from 70 countries. Over 10,000 aircraft wing in for the show, temporarily transforming little Wittman Regional Airport into the busiest airport in the world. Spectators may be treated to supersonic military jets, precision aerobatic teams, home-built aeroplanes, vintage bombers and delicate ultralights—all in the same day.
As many as 200 aircraft participate in daily 30- and 60-minute air shows, which feature vintage WWII warbirds, wingwalkers and other specialty acts. There’s also plenty to see at the adjacent EAA AirVenture Museum, which is open all year and includes dozens of aircraft, exhibits on the pioneers of flight and a KidVenture area with interactive rocket- and plane-building projects.
The EAA also sponsors ‘fantasy flight camps’, where licensed pilots can fly vintage biplanes and early passenger transport craft like a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor ‘Tin Goose’.