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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedExceptions to the rule, and the Oshkosh dunking booth
Story and photos by Jack Hodgson

Jim Owens of Phoenix, Arizona, with his trusty Piper 140.

Steve Johnson and daughter Amanda sit in the North 40 campground beside their 2003 Aviat Husky.

Jim Owens is one of the few exceptions.

He’s camping in the North 40—but he actually has his airplane with him out on the grass.

Due to the wet grounds earlier in the week there are almost no planes parked out on the North 40’s acres of grass parking. But Jim and his wife, Beth, managed to arrive at the one moment last Friday when planes were being directed onto this particular, and mostly dry, piece of grass.

On Tuesday morning he’s sitting beside the wing, av radio in his lap, watching the increasing number of AirVenture 2010 arrivals.

Jim and his wife are from Phoenix, Arizona. He’s been coming to the fly-in for eight years.

“We do two or three big trips each year, and one of them is always to here,” Jim said.

He began this year’s trip to Oshkosh flying in tandem with a friend in a Super Cub, but along the route a freak ramp accident totally destroyed the Cub.

Jim loves the laid-back nature of hanging out in the North 40. He fondly remembers last year when his Super Cub friends were serving sushi that they were making right beside the plane.

“Sitting here in the middle of Wisconsin, at an air show, eating fresh-made sushi rolls. Wow.”

Jim flies out of the Chandler, Arizona, airport (CHD), which he claims to be the “17th busiest GA [airport] in the world.”

Jim’s plane is a 1975 Piper 140. He’s owned it for five years.

“It’s old and beat up, but it’s ours. She doesn’t go too fast, she doesn’t climb very well. But she does what we need her to do.”

Steve Johnson and his daughter, Amanda, are also among the lucky.

They’re camping in the North 40 beside their 2003 Aviat Husky.

He’s not sure exactly how he managed to score one of the few dry spaces.

“A combination of good timing,” he said, “and being a little bit pushy.

“But mostly good timing.”

They arrived Friday from their home in Abilene, Texas. It’s Steve’s fifth visit to the fly-in. Steve flies out of Abilene Regional (ABI).

“I missed last year. It’s the last one I’m ever gonna miss,” Steve said.

We’ve heard lots of descriptions of the AirVenture experience, but Steve’s is unique: “It’s like an aviation dunking booth. You go: dunk, dunk, dunk. Then you come out, and take a deep breath. And then: dunk, dunk, dunk.”

But in a good way. “Oh yeah, I love it.”

It’s Amanda’s second visit to the fly-in. Her first was five years ago when she was 10.

“Everybody in my family has rotated,” Steve said. “It was her turn.”

She’s not a student pilot yet, but she’s looking forward to getting started.

Steve’s been flying the Husky since getting it new in 2003. He’s got about 900 hours on it. “It’s a much more capable airplane than I am a pilot.”

But next year he plans to come to Oshkosh in his RV-9A homebuilt—newly finished after seven and a half years.

“I just finished an RV-9A. I only have two hours on its Hobbs.

“It wasn’t ready, but I’ll bring it next year.”

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