It Wouldn’t Be Oshkosh Without It

A little rain is to be expected.


I don’t recall an AirVenture experience without at least once scrambling for cover as rain swept across the field. Saturday’s deluge brought a wetting-down for the early arrivers, and Wednesday’s early-morning thunderstorm was presaged by the roar of 6:01 a.m. departures trying to get out ahead of its onset. We hardcore types who sleep out in the weeds under our wing simply have to shrug it off as part of the deal we’ve made.

Ah, but there’s rain, and then there’s RAIN, as in horizontal inundation, accompanied by notes of hail bouncing off airplane skin. When the wind bends the tent frame and sends rainflys airborne, that’s a bit more than we bargained for. Most years, we just get some showers (“Oshkosh Laundry”, say the old-timers), and we just retighten ropes and stakes afterward.

Summer in the Midwest is defined by pop-up thundershowers, sparing one side of a county while soaked the other. Frontal storms, with tops to 50,000 feet, are more muscular, and those are what give aircraft insurance underwriters nightmares when they threaten a gathering like AirVenture. I’ve ridden out some memorable ones up here; as we say, it’s part of the experience.

Timing is everything, when it comes to the inconvenience of being rained on at AirVenture. It’s best to have storms move through at night, when the crowd is safely tucked away in its camp-sites or dorm rooms. Having rain come in when the grounds are full of airshow spectators and unprepared participants is is much less convenient. I always travel with a hefty trash bag in my backpack, which can be turned into an emergency poncho with a few pokes in its bottom.

Storms like the Wednesday wake-up allows us to sleep in, listening to the patter of rain on the roof. Breakfast can wait, and if it doesn’t let up we’ll do some exhibit hangar shopping or look a bargain in the Fly-Mart. It wouldn’t be Oshkosh without a little rain.



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