My Favorite Destination: Blogging in Formation Series


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OshkohsWe didn’t really go anywhere when I was growing up, in fact my first airline flight was in my 20s well after I was already out on my own and flying professionally. It was in the back of a 737 from Cody, WY to Oklahoma City after delivering a Bellanca Super Viking to a former student. Since then I have had the opportunity to travel to a lot of places. 

Be it a tropical paradise, a desert oasis, a bustling metropolis, or a rural Mayberry-like town, one place stands above all the rest as my favorite destination.

Interestingly, it really only qualifies as my favorite destination one week out of the year. Of course I don’t harbor this opinion in isolation, many aviators consider this place Mecca, being irresistibly drawn there each year without fail just like the swallows to Capistrano.

So for someone that has flown to almost every major bucket list destination in this hemisphere, how is a sleepy college town in Wisconsin such a draw? 

Right on queue each year the Oshkosh Wittman Regional Airport becomes a self-contained city of several hundred thousand aviation fanatics, plus over 10,000 aircraft of almost limitless variety. All of this is 100% dedicated to being a playground for pilots. What’s not to like?! 

Your host for the event is the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and they put on an amazing experience to be sure; 2014 will be number 61 so this is a long-standing tradition. Although it started out as generally a homebuilder gathering, you can find anything with wings at Oshkosh. They try to make it very inclusive of anyone who calls themselves an aviation enthusiast.P-51D

My first trek to Mecca happened in 1993. I was 22 years old and was privileged to be there in a commercial capacity. I was the test and demo pilot for Fighter Escort Wings, Ltd. a company that produced a 2/3-scale all-composite P-51D kit. I flew the “mustang” to the show, flew it in the homebuilt review, and also various photo missions for the press during the week. To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. I was not only at THE SHOW, at least in a small way I was part of it and I was getting paid to be there! 

I returned again in the little Mustang in 1994 with a bigger V-8 engine and even more great times. Unfortunately due to some setbacks the project wound down the next year and I went back to a more traditional track of progressing up through the ranks to a career pilot job. 

Oshkosh would go on without me for the next 13 years as I changed jobs, relocated, got married, had kids, and just generally got distracted and lost my spark for recreational flying. Luckily I came back to the light. 

Fast forward to 2007 where I make a less than auspicious return by automobile to Oshkosh – at least I was there! I was almost a year into the construction of my RV-8 and I was super-excited to be there, but bummed that I wasn’t out on the flight line with an airplane. I would return in 2008, again by car. After that year I vowed to put my head down and get my airplane finished and not come back until I was able to fly it in. Not exactly a great decision, but the lost time and money of taking the trip every year pushed my completion by a measurable amount. 

In late 2011, the RV-8 took flight (4 years and 9 months after I started) and in 2012 I made it to the show, proud as a new poppa as I camped under the wing of my shiny new airplane. 


Due to my daughter Sydney’s opportunity to dance ballet in Seattle last summer I had to sacrifice Oshkosh in 2013 – you do stuff like that for your kids. 

This year I vow to make it work, even if I just fly over from Ohio – a 3 hr flight- for a single day. 

I could write a book about my specific Oshkosh experiences, but I’ll leave you with the major take-aways that most attendees would echo.

– If you love airplanes, you won’t be disappointed and you can’t possible see everything.

– It is the most idyllic place on earth in terms of courtesy, niceness, and honesty. Leave a camera or your wallet in the grass and you can plan to pick it up at lost and found. There is 0 theft, 0 trash, and 0 bad attitudes. Former Good Morning America host and avid GA supporter, David Hartman calls it, “…the best of Americana.” He is so right!

– The weather is completely unpredictable. Pack for cold, hot, dry, and wet; you’ll likely see all four during the week.

– You will leave with more than you came, both figuratively and literally.

– You will vow to return each year.


Even with all the amazing places we can fly our airplanes, I can’t imagine a better destination than Oshkosh the last week of July each year. See you there!

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By Brent Owens {click on my name to email me}


Blogging in Formation

This post is part of the Blogging in Formation Series #blogformation, a monthly four day collaboration between eight aviation bloggers all discussing the same topic from their unique perspectives. Check out the other writers here:

Day 1 (Feb 1): Eric Auxier @ and Ron Rapp @

Day 2 (Feb 2): Mark L. Berry @ and me at

Day 3 (Feb 3): Rob Burgon @ and Andrew Hartely @

Day 4 (Feb 4): Karlene Petitt @ and Chip Shanle @


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