AirVenture 2008 Days 6 & 7: Endgame

If you read the cleverly titled (because I titled it) blog Information Mike, written by friend and colleague Mike Singer, you’ll see that, earlier in the Oshkosh week, we took a trip to a place called Fisk and watched the controllers there do their thing. If you haven’t read it, click the link and give it a read now. I’ll wait.

Anyway, while we were out at Fisk, politely conferring with the controllers, asking intelligent research-related questions like "Hey, Mister – can I look through your buboculars?", the idea of a visit to the control tower at the airport itself came up. And, by "came up", I mean we said "Hey, mister, can we PUH-LEEZE go up in the control tower?!?!" Foolishly enough, they promised to work something out. At which we point we gave them their binoculars back.

My turn in the tower came on Saturday. As it happens, they close the control tower during the daily airshow (the airspace is handed off to the show’s "air boss"), so the best time to visit the tower also just happens to be (thanks to the view) the best time to be in the tower. It’s a heady feeling, to say the least, watching an airshow from above – especially given the dramatically increased height of the new tower.

Two of my colleagues, Brandon Seltz and the aforementioned Mike Singer, went up that day as well, quite a bit higher than the tower … and, at times, considerably lower! Brandon and Mike have been the driving forces behind some of the work we’re doing with Dale "Snort" Snodgrass and American Topgun Productions (yes, I know, and no, I won’t tell). Dale wanted a chance to say "thank you" to the two of them in particular, and, ignoring my jealousy-driven suggestions of memberships for each of them in the Jelly of the Month Club, decided to give them each a ride in a Mustang. North American, not Ford. The real thing, the one that Christian Bale points at frantically in the movie Empire of the Sun and calls the "Cadillac of the sky!" They each truly got the ride of their lives, and my therapist has told me repeatedly that the seething, bitter envy I feel is far outweighed by my happiness on their behalf.

Then again – they actually earned their flight, the chumps, while I, in good Socialist fashion, chatted my way into my hop in the Soviet Yak-9 by claiming that I needed it.

Saturday night afforded one last photo run through Aeroshell square, snapping sunset pics, before everyone started heading out on Sunday. I can’t quite articulate why, but somehow, the image of the V-22 guys loading up a ladder they bought from the ladder guy really captured the spirit of AirVenture perfectly. So perfectly, that, even though I thought I had, I don’t seem to have taken a picture of it.

You’ll just have to trust me.

Sunday rolled ’round, and, thanks to some threatening weather, the grounds were all but empty. I knew a number of people (such as friend-of-friends Fern Villenuve, first team leader of Canada’s Golden Hawks flight demonstration team – the first person I’ve met whose face is actually on money) who figured if they didn’t leave Saturday, they’d be stuck in Oshkosh (not always a bad thing) for another week. Of course, I couldn’t be absolutely certain that the grounds were empty without seeing it for myself, so I went back up in the control tower. Because I could.

Other exhibitors were quietly (and some not so quietly) packing up and shutting down throughout the day, but we kept ours going until the very end. You should assume that we did this because of our near fanatical dedication to reaching every last customer we possibly could, and not because we’d contracted with a company called The Production Network who, in the person of the incomparable Steve Mallinson, was completely responsible for the teardown of the booth.

Just as it has done the other nine times I’ve been, the end of AirVenture came too soon. Once we’d abandoned Steve shut down the PCs and headed out, we took one last end-to-end run on the golf cart, reluctantly returning it to the EAA, just as the first real storm of the week kicked in.

From Oshkosh, it was on to Toronto for a week or so but that’s another story.

A room with a view … X-Plane’s Austin Meyer poses with us proving that we can, in fact, all just get along. Is there a word that means "the opposite of advertising?" The Walking Taco seemed like an unnecessarily smug dig at the handicapped corn dogs of Reno. Good night, Panchito.

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