Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oshkosh and Flying Friendships

Whew! I am finally digging out of everything Oshkosh has left in its wake! To be honest, this year I was slightly dreading heading to EAA AirVenture due to my busy schedule. I just wanted to rest. But, I felt obligated to go as it has been two years, I wanted to meet with present and new clients and Turbo Learns to Fly just came out. This year, I felt like an orphan. It was the first time I'd go to Oshkosh without Bob since we've met. I opted for an airline flight and found a ride from the airport, but was at a loss to find an inexpensive way back. It was in the process of being "fostered" by various pilots through Oshkosh that reminded me how precious flying friendships are.

It was a last minute decision to take an airline to Appleton, WI then commute to Oshkosh. My friend from Baltimore, Heather, was flying in Monday afternoon so I booked the same flight with her and her lovable mother picked us up. Of course aviation talk and favorite Oshkosh stories filled the flight and drive. At our layover in Detroit, another female pilot, Denise joined us. We were ready to conquer EAA!

Heather and I parted ways at the main gate and I headed over to hangar A to get to work. I was greeted by several co-workers I see on a daily basis along with Joe, from our California branch that I hadn't seen since the my last Oshkosh trip. I would be staying in the dorms in Fond du Lac with them, but honestly, wasn't looking forward to being stuck with a bunch of dudes every evening! 

It was not long after I arrived in the booth a friend and insured, Sean showed up along with his wife, Kelly and parents, Stephen and Cathy. Within just a few minutes of conversation, I was invited to stay with them in a house they rented just across the street from the airport. I had found my Oshkosh family. Not only were they aviation enthusiasts that were easy to get to know better, Stephen was Santa Claus! A legit Santa. It was so fun to see children's and adults' reactions alike to Santa Claus walking through the EAA grounds.

The remainder of the week was spent catching up with pilot friends I only see once a year, underwriters and clients who I usually only know by their name and N number and meeting longtime Turbo the Flying Dog fans and pilot friends from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I enjoyed spending time at the seaplane base while listening to a reading of Turbo the Flying dog, going for a flight in a Cessna 182 on floats, getting drinks with longtime friends Leslie and Lin, and also got to meet Burt Rutan and tour the Starship! Not a day passed where I didn't have dinner plans, after dinner plans, or a ride to and from the show. I later hitched a ride back to Maryland with Lin and her mother in Lin's Cessna 182. This Oshkosh was a reminder of close knit the aviation community is and that we all share a very special bond. This bond is what makes us one of the most giving industries I have been introduced to. I'm already geared up for Oshkosh 2016!

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