If you have been to AirVenture before, you know it is immense. If you haven’t, and this is your first time, prepare to be blown away. If you do the simple math, Wittman Field is two and half miles north to south, and little more than a mile and a half east to west (including all of the show area and campgrounds). The place is simply huge! And the variety you’ll find – from acres and acres of airplane tiedowns to vendor buildings, campsites, and restaurants – you can find just about anything. It’s all quite overwhelming – so it helps to have a few spots where you know that you can park yourself to rest, recuperate, or plan your next few hours.
I’ve been going to the show for about twenty years now, and while things do change from year to year, the change is usually slow enough that only one or two of my favorite haunts are modified each year – and I can deal with that. The secret is having numerous favorite places to unwind.
One spot that isn’t available to most attendees is the media area – Belvoir Media Group rents a work-site trailer for the staff of our various publications to use. It’s air conditioned, has a fridge, and friendly folks all bent over computers. No green eyeshades, but it’s a place to park your backpack and unwind. Sorry – not open to the public – we need some place to write where it’s quiet (until the jets start the air show!).
My favorite place to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere? The Homebuilt Camping Pavilion! You don’t need to be camped there to find a spot at a table in the shade, find a place to plug in your phone, and chat up a few other pilots who have flown their pride and joy in to the show. Unless there is a party going on (rare) or a thunderstorm pelting the field (not so rare), there is always room to sit and chat – the real “fly-in” is here.
And lastly – what don’t folks get about the word “headquarters”? Homebuilder’s Headquarters is a favorite place (of mine) to find a place to sit in the shade – the little shade porch on the south end of the building) because there’s rarely enough people sitting there to come close to filling it up. You have a great view of runway 35-17, and the parking area for unique homebuilts. But many only visit HBHQ to register when they fly in, and never drop by again. Oh well – more peace for me!