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Matt Debski, Aircraft Owner WVFC


Oshkosh 2018 Wrap-up


Both, (at least two but hopefully more) of my regular readers know that my newsletter article after July is a summary of my experience at EAA Airventure - Oshkosh.  Airventure is held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin during the last week of July.  It is understating the event to say that it's an airshow.  It's a weeklong festival of aviation, featuring airshows, forums, vendor displays, lectures, movies, and thousands of aviation lovers all in a single place.


Boy was this year well-attended!  Unlike previous years, I ended up attending the first few days of the show, arriving Monday evening and departing Thursday morning.  I had expected this period to be more relaxed than the later part of the week.  Perhaps it was, but it seemed as busy as the weekend days of the previous years.  Officially, attendance this year was 2% higher than last year...and last year featured the Blue Angels, a huge draw for the weekend days.  Overall, the grounds were bustling with people and aircraft.  While probably continuing as a reflection of the strong economy, it's still exciting to see so many people interested in aviation in one place.


This year featured a new event, the Lindbergh Innovation Forum.  This three-hour, open-to-anyone-interested event was comprised of three hour-long sessions, starting with presentations by industry luminaries followed by a moderated panel of the three presenters.  This was a real highlight of Oshkosh for me this year.  I almost would have made the trip to Oshkosh just for it.  The Lindbergh Foundation plans to hold more of these forums nationwide.  You can subscribe to receive updates at


For example, one of the speakers was Robert Hannaford, one of the co-founders of Air Shepherd.  Air Shepherd uses drones to fight poaching in South Africa.  They are one of few companies worldwide operationally deploying drones on a regular basis.  Their drones operate within South Africa's airspace system.  They operate beyond line-of-sight and mostly at night, when poaching generally takes place.  Mr. Hannaford discussed how they achieved this and next steps for expanding their operations.


The last few years at Oshkosh saw the introduction first of low-cost glass-panels migrating from the experimental aircraft world to certificated world, then autopilots.  This year witnessed some modest evolutions.  The STC'd autopilots added more aircraft models so that the technology is now available for more models.  There were a few new lower-cost, higher featured portable ADS-B In receivers, most notably from ForeFlight.  However, this was a bit of a slower year for product announcements.


The last new thing I tried this year, and would encourage you to experience when you're at Oshkosh, was the Vintage Tram Tour.  One of the great joys of Oshkosh is simply wandering among the aircraft.  Sometimes I strike up a conversation with the proud owner, but often I just look and move on.  Most of the time, though, while I can admire a nice-looking plane, I often don't really know what I'm looking at.  The Vintage Tram Tour is an hour-long tour through the Vintage Aircraft Area.  A knowledgeable volunteer narrates and shares personal experience as the tram makes its way through the rows of aircraft.  As each narrator is different and each year includes a different set of planes, the tour is different every time.  It was a blast to hear the stories and enjoy some time off my feet while still getting to see so many aircraft.  The tour is popular and there's no sign-up or reservations, so best to get to the Vintage area early in the day.  Note that there is also a Warbird Tram tour, which I took last year.  It is in the same area, but the Warbird tour is more popular so there are signups.


Now that Oshkosh 2018 is finished, I am already dreaming about next year.  If you have not yet made it to Oshkosh, I can't encourage you enough to attend.  If you have been, I don't need to tell you to make your plans for next year, because you already are.