OSH17 – Mind Blown

IMG_0622EAA’s Airventure runs for a full seven days. I was there for five of them. This sounds like it should be plenty of time to see everything, but it isn’t. Not even close! However, I can say with full confidence that I made the most of the time that I had.

More Blue Angels

I mentioned in my last post that in addition to interviewing the pilot of Blue Angel #4, I also interviewed one of the enlisted men. Petty Officer First Class Jamichael (Jay) Semien is one of the crew coordinators on the team. Along with overseeing the ground operations, he is responsible for all the safety equipment on the planes. When I asked him how that is accomplished he explained that with some systems, like the oxygen system, there are tests that can be run. However for other systems, like the ejection seats, the only way to test them is to deploy them. Obviously no one wants to do that, so they have a rigorous maintenance schedule that they follow to ensure everything remains in perfect working order.

I really have to take a moment to once again thank the Blue Angels team members for being so gracious and generous with their time. These are men and women who are serving their country 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and who step up to defend our freedoms at a moment’s notice. I cannot thank them enough for their service.

Days 4 & 5

Thursday started with a visit inside the KC-135. This was a huge treat for me because I see these planes quite often and had been longing to get a closer look at one. From there I hustled over to the EAA radio center where I had the tremendous honor of being interviewed by Amy Laboda and Jeb Burnside for the Attitude Adjustment show. To be completely honest, I was pretty darn nervous! Thankfully Amy and Jeb made it easy. Give it a listen!

Other notable events on Thursday and Friday included a tour of an RAF A400, an interview with an official from Airbus, and an interview with the director of NASA Langley. If you haven’t already done so, you MUST go check out the Flying and Life Podcast. Mike did a great job with these interviews – you REALLY don’t want to miss them.

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Friday afternoon I attended a media briefing with Gene Kranz, Walter Cunningham and Jim Lovell from the Apollo space program. What a tremendous honor that was! I also heard them speak at the NASA presentation on Friday night. As I listened to them swap stories and share behind-the-scenes insights, it really brought home to me the breadth of the aviation world that is present at Airventure. You can find it all, from ultralights to the space program and everything in between.

The Rest of the Story

You might be thinking, hey Jenn – weren’t there daily air shows? Didn’t you watch any of them? Yes, there was an air show every afternoon. And most days I caught bits and pieces of them as we dashed from one event to the next. We were so busy running around that it wasn’t until Friday that I had time to just sit and watch a full show. And what a spectacular show it was! I was especially pleased that the Heritage Flight included not one, but TWO Warthogs! Rock on! EAA really does it right.

Other notable moments included attending several meet-ups, including one with Captain Jeff from the Airline Pilot Guy show who was visiting Airventure for the first time. I also finally made it to Camp Scholler and was able to spend some time with the amazing folks of Camp Bacon. And I paid my respects at the coffin. What is that you ask? You’ll just have to come to Osh18 and find out!

Final thoughts

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As I write this I am still decompressing from the week, however there are two major things that stand out to me. The first is all the amazing people I had the pleasure of meeting/seeing again this year. I cannot begin to list names (there are far too many!) but I just have to say how absolutely awesome it was to connect with every one of you. You are proof that aviation people are without a doubt some of the best people in the world.


Hey look – there goes my new best friend, Lt. Benson!

The second thing that stands out to me is how incredibly blessed I am to have been able to find a place inside an industry that I love so much. If you had told me at my first Airventure four years ago that by 2017 I would be working at an airport, writing a successful blog and that I would have so many amazing aviation friends, I never would have believed it. Yet here I am – proof that really cool things CAN happen to ordinary people who happen to love airplanes.

So what do you think? Want to have your mind blown? Airventure Oshkosh 2018 is less than a year away. Are you in?


PS: You thought I forgot about the stairs trucks, didn’t you. Go ahead, admit it! You’ve read through this post and there has been no mention of them. Well fear not, intrepid readers, I NEVER forget the stairs trucks! The photos below are an example of what happens when a stairs truck is left unguarded in my vicinity.

Authors note: Special shout-out to Mike Karrels (FlyingAndLife Podcast) and Dan Pimentel (Airplanista) – thanks for all your help and support. Shout out also to Rob Mark (Flying Magazine/Jetwhine) – thanks for inviting me to be on Attitude Adjustment. You were very much missed! And thanks to David Abbey, Daniel Dusome and John Brown who took the people/group photos.

16 thoughts on “OSH17 – Mind Blown

  1. As much as I love the airplanes, the more events like this I attend, and to be fair I don’t know that there is another event like Airventure, the more I realize it is the people that make it so amazing. Sure the pilots and the crews are amazing, and without them it would just be a bunch of people standing around with cameras around their necks, but just the people you get to meet it unreal. There are just so many untold stories when you go to events like that, but when you get a chance to just enjoy the moment you get to hear those stories and it can change your life forever.

    You know I am a huge fan Jen. Thank you as always for sharing your enthusiasm, and who knows, maybe next year I will finally make it out.


    • Thank you SO MUCH David! You are absolutely correct – in the end it is the people that really make an event special, and Osh is no exception. I really hope you can make it one of these days – I am anxiously looking forward to being able to avgeek with you in person!


  2. As always, very nicely done, Jenn! Thank you for helping to make my first Osh the fantastic experience that it was. It was truly my pleasure to meet the many great people that are part of the aviation world, in its many forms.


  3. Jeez, you really need to get out more, Jen! 😉

    Actually, that’s totally the pot calling the kettle black! I’ve never even been to Airventure (or should I be old school and call it “Oshkosh”?). Some day, though….

    I’m glad you’re making the most of your time there. For those of us who cannot attend, the enthusiasm and passion you convey through your posts and podcasts are a good substitute. And let’s face it, what aviation aficionado would be able to sleep at night without stats on the quantity and quality of the stair truck fleet at OSH??

    As we Jews say, next year in Jerusalem Oshkosh!


  4. What a beautiful week my dear friend in Oshkosh….have never seen an airshow like Oshkosh..it was fabulous …Thanks for all the advices…


  5. Jen Niffer I’m so glad I now subscribe to your blog. You truly have the avgeek gene in your blood like so many of us but you also can eloquently write about it. Airventure was full of so many great experiences. I can’t think of anything bad about the whole week. Thanks for your assistance and spreading stairs truck love throughout the land!


  6. Jennifer, your enthusiasm and appreciation for aviation, so well-expressed, are a joy. Glad you had a great experience at Osh17. I hope to take my 12-yr-old son to Osh18! The last one I was at was Osh03, so I’m way overdue. The high point of ’03 was seeing the only surviving Boeing 307 Stratoliner making one of its final flights ever, a week before its permanent retirement to the Smithsonian. The low point, only realized several hours later, was seeing the beautiful Hughes H-1 Racer reproduction departing under control of its owner/pilot, Jim Wright… tragically he fatally crashed several hours later, en route flying it home. But for every dark moment in aviation there are literally millions of bright moments with every flight, every triumph.


  7. Great write up! Unfortunately I did not make it to the Camp Bacon party Tuesday night, but hopefully I can catch you next year. The event was far more overwhelming than I anticipated, but in the best way possible. I’ll definitely be back 🙂

    Feel free to check out my first (of three) installments on my first OSH experience.

    Safe skies and good tailwinds,


    • Thanks so much for reading – I will definitely check out your installments! I don’t think it is possible to fully comprehend what Osh really is until you experience it yourself. Just be forewarned – it’s addictive! Hope to see you next year!

      Liked by 1 person

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