Self-Debriefing Your AirVenture Experience

No matter what brought you to AirVenture, a post-event debrief will make your next visit better.

Every flying lesson ends with a debriefing. What worked, what didn’t, where can improvements be made? If you recently attended The Big Show in Oshkosh, or tried to, you should debrief your experience so you are better prepared for next time. This is something I do in all areas of my life, which is why I never drive near Atlanta or consume low-quality ice cream.

Was Your Airplane Ready?

Did you have your airplane well-prepared? Did you remove the accumulated weight of everyday flying so your sixer of Spotted Cow had a spot for the flight home? Did you pack the needed spares for a common break-down? Spark plugs? Quart or two of oil? Extra inner tube? Spare Dzus fasteners for the cowl? Rags? Uncommon tools to fix common problems? Did you arrive near Oshkosh with enough fuel to orbit or divert?

Were You Ready?

Had you read and understood the KOSH arrival and departure NOTAMS? I saw quite a number who did not and it caused mayhem. One pilot’s arrival mis-adventure closed all arrivals for 10 minutes while the controllers huddled to decide if they had chosen the wrong career path. Had you practiced every non-standard arrival pattern you could think of so you were prepared for whatever conditions presented themselves at KOSH? “Blue RV, I need you to keep your speed up. You have 2000 feet beyond the orange dot.” (I made that up, don’t fact-check me).

Were You Ready To Stay?

Did you remember tie downs? Gust locks? A canopy cover? Rags?

Were You Ready to Leave?

Did you get fuel immediately on arrival? Did you turn off the master switch? Did you sump your tanks? Did you buy too much stuff? Did you check for a flat tire in time to repair it without panic? Did you give the engine a good once-over for problems that may have developed on the flight in?

Consider Your Cargo

What did you bring that you didn’t need? What didn’t you bring that you should have? Did you pack the items well or were your must-haves buried under the tow-bar that could have stayed home? What did you bring that you could have bought onsite? What did you buy onsite that you could have mail-ordered?

There’s always room for improvement even if your AirVenture adventure went off without a hitch. The time to debrief is when the experience is still fresh in your mind. That time is now. While I simply drove to KOSH each morning of the fly-in, I still debriefed my route, my schedule, the camera equipment I pack and which pocket of my cargo shorts I place my car keys so I don’t panic thinking I lost them somewhere onsite. This year I also composed a list of my five favorite secret places on the grounds so I don’t have to rediscover them next year. They are:


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Kerry Fores
Kerry Fores was born and raised in Oshkosh, WI and was interested in homebuilding by age 12. Between 1998 and 2003 he scratchbuilt and polished a Sonex, which he named Metal Illness. Kerry logged nearly 500 hours in Metal Illness and was awarded Plans Built Champion at AirVenture 2006. Kerry is retired from a 21-year career at Sonex Aircraft, most of it dedicated to supporting builders. Kerry is on the web at


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