To expend considerable time and treasure converging on a medium-size city in Wisconsin every summer, just to hang out with like-minded aviation aficionados, doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you’ve done it at least once. And then you’ll want to do it again, and again and again.
Why? As the late-great Paul H. Poberezny put it, “You come to Oshkosh for the airplanes. You come back to Oshkosh for the people.” Our friend Paul was right; it is here that we make and renew acquaintances, all centered about our shared attraction. We’re interested in what’s flying this year, but we’re just as interested in what brought our neighbor in the campground, food court, tiedowns or flight line.
“Where’s home for you?” and “Didja fly in?” are typical starters. Before long, the couple from the opposite coast, the mate from Australia or the bloke from the U.K. have become your brothers and sisters in a society of kindred souls. “Are you building?” is a natural intro if you’re both looking at a product or project. Before long, business cards are exchanged and we’re part of an ever-expanding network.
Having been involved in aviation for long past 60 years, I’ve become accustomed this conviviality. I often say, “I’ve lost thousands of dollars on business deals during my life, but I can’t remember being shorted more than a few hundred bucks in aviation. People who fly are predominately reliable; the punishment meted out by errors aloft makes us that way.” We loan our cars to transient pilots (we have their airplane, after all) and we put some avgas on our credit card to get them home if theirs is declined. It’s just the nature of the business.
So, the rationale of attending Oshkosh flows naturally from wanting to be near the center of the swarm. We become energized here, we shed the weight of cares, we leave lighter (in more ways than one) and we once again remember why we got into this business. As Paul said, “It’s the people.”