by Harold Green
Published in Midwest Flyer – Oct/Nov 2016
This year I decided to look at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh as a source of educational opportunities and attempt to gain some insight into the reactions of people in attendance.
First, I volunteered for the Pilot Proficiency Center. The center, sponsored in part by the Experimental Aircraft Association, provides simulator training to attendees at no cost. The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), Society of Aviation & Flight Educators (SAFE), and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), with the help of Redbird Flight Simulations, Inc., put the effort together. Seventy-eight (78) flight instructors and 14 simulators were involved. There were also three simulator wranglers, a CFI onsite manager, and a center leader.
Several people said they encountered wait times of close to an hour and had to forego participation. Thirty-one (31) scenarios, complete with lesson plans, had been prepared. Each participant was able to select up to three scenarios, either VFR or IFR or a combination thereof, from a bound booklet providing a summary of the scenario and its objectives. Everything from take off from a short, mountain-surrounded airstrip, to an instrument approach to minimums, was covered.
The scenarios were very realistic and well thought out. Each participant worked with an instructor who played the role of an air traffic controller when required.
Simulators included specific crosswind simulators and standard Redbird simulators, some of which were configured with G1000 avionics and some with six packs. All aircraft were Cessna 172s.
One of the interesting things was the attitude of the instructors. Many were not as familiar with G1000 avionics as they would like. Therefore, many instructors took advantage of the opportunity to become more familiar with the G1000 system during the training sessions, which was a win-win for both students and instructors.
In summary, the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh was worthwhile for everyone involved. Many hours went into this great attraction by the four organizations involved, and they are to be commended for it. At a minimum, participants gained insight into the value of using flight simulators. Perhaps even a few came away hoping to increase their proficiency as pilots.
The reactions of people attending AirVenture was interesting. The first people I talked with were a husband and wife team from North Dakota. He is a retired aerial applicator and today owns a single-engine aircraft for pleasure. Unfortunately, his age and a medical condition caught up with him and he had to retire. When active, he not only flew, but also at times had to make field repairs on his aircraft.
The husband only had one accident in his career and that did not injure him, but did cause some damage to his plane. He made a temporary fix in the field and flew the aircraft home for more extensive repairs. The couple still comes to AirVenture and live in their camper for the week. Their love for aviation and fellow aviators is real.
I was fortunate enough to talk to a flight instructor from the East Coast, who has a seaplane rating and about 600 hours, but has not flown in years. He is semi-retired from his business, but still retains his Coast Guard rating as a ship captain. He, too, is limited by medical conditions, but would like to become involved with aviation again – perhaps as a flight simulator instructor.
He had never been to AirVenture before, so the event was quite an eye opener for him. He tried his hand at the Boeing simulator at the Boeing exhibit.
His reactions to AirVenture were of particular interest and came down to this: a) “This is bigger than I thought it would be.” b) “I didn’t really believe the 10,000 airplane number until I got here. WOW!” c) “The people in the Midwest are so friendly, I can’t get over it.” d) “I haven’t walked this much in years. My feet hurt.”
I suspect he will come back, like we all do!
Paraphrasing the response of other attendees: “I come to Oshkosh because it’s fun… I get to look at cool airplanes and I meet a lot of very nice people.”
I am sure that many people attend AirVenture with a specific objective in mind, but having fun is just fine with me!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Harold Green is an Instrument and Multi-Engine Flight Instructor (CFII, MEII) at Morey Airplane Company in Middleton, Wisconsin (C29). A flight instructor since 1976, Green was named “Flight Instructor of the Year” by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2011, and is a recipient of the “Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.” Questions, comments and suggestions for future topics are welcomed via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 608-836-1711 (www.MoreyAirport.com).