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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedBig RVs move to city parking lots
By Barbara A. Schmitz

Hundreds of fifth-wheels and mobile homes are camping in city parking lots because the ground is still too wet for them to move into EAA’s Camp Scholler. Photo by Jim Koepnick

More than weeds are sprouting in Oshkosh after the city received about 12 inches of rain so far in July.

Improvised campgrounds for the largest of the campers—the fifth-wheelers and mobile homes—are sprouting up around paved parking lots in Oshkosh, since the ground at EAA’s Camp Scholler is still too wet to accommodate those heavy vehicles.

By Sunday, hundreds of recreational vehicles filled the parking lots at Aviation Plaza just northwest of the airport, the former Russ Darrow Kia lot across Highway 41, the former K-Mart and Sears lot on Koeller Road, and the Country USA grounds across from the EAA AirVenture Museum. Another 60 units were parked on Ripple Road.

Communications Director Dick Knapinski said EAA continues to look into additional hard surfaces that could be used to park RVs, if the need arises.

All the parking lots were being furnished with 24-hour security and portable toilets, and were being serviced with bus service to the EAA grounds. But just as important, all the lots were starting to resemble communities, with people walking dogs, sipping beverages while sitting in lawn chairs or at picnic tables, and chatting with their new neighbors.

“I prefer being here than being in a sea of mud,” said Robert Koehn, EAA 292161, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was camping in the Aviation Plaza lot. “This one is pretty heavy,” he said, pointing to his RV. “If I got mired down I wouldn’t be able to get out.”

Bob Matteson, EAA 43205, of Jonesboro, Georgia, arrived at Oshkosh Saturday morning, and also was put in the Aviation Plaza lot. “It’s inconvenient, but it’s certainly a lot better than it could be,” he said.

His main concerns centered on getting water and finding a dump station. Knapinski said fliers are being distributed to campers in the parking lots to answer many of their questions.

Matteson said most of the people in the outlying lots are in good moods. “I haven’t heard or seen anyone being really upset.

“But then it really isn’t anyone’s fault,” added Rod Schneider, EAA 324983, of Woodstock, Georgia. “You can’t help bad weather. As long as airplanes are involved, it’s going to be a good week.”

John Brusseau, EAA 691927, and Roger Chism, EAA 863850, both of Chapter 1259 at Houghton Lake State Airport, Michigan, agreed. “We’re doing OK,” Brusseau said. “Keeping a positive attitude,” Chism added, as they sat outside an RV in the old Kmart and Sears parking lot.

Brusseau said the only thing he was missing was portable showers. “I’d prefer to be on the field, but whatever happens will happen. We’ll just deal with it.”

Lorraine Drewlo, of Beausejour, Manitoba, was pleased with their offsite camp. “I’m grateful they sent us here and I don’t have to worry about bringing mud and grass inside.”

However, her husband, Bob, didn’t agree. “I’d sooner be stuck in the mud and be on the grounds,” Bob quipped. “Instead, we have a shopping mall next door.”

“My husband is a pilot, so AirVenture is the next best place to heaven for him,” Lorraine explained.

Lorraine said people have been friendly in the makeshift campground, and they’ve met two others from Canada. “All it takes is for you to mention you’re a pilot and the conversation starts up.”

Even Bob said they were fortunate to be there. “Even though we’re not on the grounds, we can still see the action in the air. That’s a positive.”

Nancy Schilling, of Franklin, Indiana, said they were able to park with their group from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Ohio at the Aviation Plaza lot. “The boys aren’t happy where we are, but we like it here,” she said. “We have grass and a nice tree that provides shade,” she said.

“It’s our own veranda,” added Roxanna Wood, also of Franklin, Indiana.

“Besides after looking at engines for 45 seconds, I’m done—and I’m a pilot,” Schilling said.

Schilling and Wood planned to spend most of their time shopping and relaxing, while their husbands are at AirVenture. At night, they have “pitch-ins,” with everyone bringing food and eating together.

And even more rain—thankfully not forecast until Wednesday—wouldn’t even dampen their spirits. “Good friends make AirVenture good, regardless of mud,” Wood said.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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