I think EAA AirVenture Oshkosh could be my favorite aviation event of the year. The reason why is that AirVenture was the first airshow I ever attended at the age of 16. I attended with my aunt and uncle, and it was a yearly event for us for many years. Sometimes we would just drive up for the day and other times we would bring the camper. During those times the airshow was my favorite thing to watch at AirVenture. Patty Wagstaff and Sean Tucker were my favorite airshow performers, and it was so exciting to spot them walking around the AirVenture grounds. I was completely star struck every time I spotted them. One of my favorite pictures is with Patty Wagstaff which is hanging in my office.
During my college days and after graduating I continued to attend AirVenture on and off and really enjoyed attending presentations given by John and Martha King and Rod Machado. They were my mentors in flight training. Also, I became a WAI member in 1999 and enjoyed attending WAI events during AirVenture. I remember attending a presentation given by Dr. Chabrian about the process of becoming a pilot. During those years attending AirVenture was all about the flight training aspect and how to become a pilot.
Once I got married and had a career, my husband and I attended AirVenture as pilots and then as a CFI. Now it was about buying aviation supplies and gear and attending presentations given by AOPA and the FAA. I absolutely loved coming home with free flight instructor resources for my students that I collected from the exhibitors, AOPA and the FAA. Also, WAI was becoming more of a presence at AirVenture. I took part in the WAI power lunch, connect breakfast and popular WAI picture. Those years were all about experiencing AirVenture as a pilot and CFI.
Now, I’m a business owner of an aviation software company, Flight Training Technologies. Attending AirVenture is about networking and connecting with the flight training community: CFIs, flight schools, flight training organizations and trade associations, the FAA, flight training resource and software companies. I was fortunate to meet with many people who like me want to grow the pilot population, promote professionalism in flight training and improve the flight training experience. Folks like Meg Godlewski, Jason Schappert, Mark Baker, Rick Todd, Robert Meder, Keith West, Katie Pribyl, and Sarah Staudt just to name a few. I spent some time at the FAA Aviation Safety Center, AOPA tent, NAFI tent, Pilot Proficiency Center and Aviation Gateway Park. I only had two days to fit everything in, and I accomplished everything I wanted to do for this AirVenture.
Next year, Flight Training Technologies may have to try the exhibitor role! See you in 2019!