This past week end, Georgia and I made a trip to Oshkosh to visit the EAA AirVenture Museum. We left home about 9AM on Saturday and pulled into the museum parking lot right at noon.The weather was good, the museum was uncrowded and we had the whole afternoon to explore the exhibits.
We used Georgia’s wheelchair for the visit since, as good as she is doing, she still isn’t up to walking for a whole afternoon. The entire facility is easily accessible and we didn’t find any place we couldn’t get to with the chair.
The entrance to the museum is on ground level from the parking lot but the second floor of the building and after paying the admission fee for Georgia (it is free for EAA members so I wasn’t charged) we entered the upper level gallery. You step through the door and see the whole floor below filled with airplanes. What first struck me was how clean and orderly the whole museum is. The polished aircraft sparkle with reflected light.
One of the EAA volunteers greeted us and gave us a quick overview of the layout before handing me a map. She also pointed out the elevator locations so we could get up and down with the wheelchair. Our next stop was the first of five small theaters (each of the theaters shows a continuous video on some aspect of aviation) where we watched a video introduction to the collection. Then we were on our own to explore at our leisure.
We slowly made our way to the end of the upper level which gave us a good overall look at what there was to see on the main floor. The upper level also includes many smaller exhibits like old aircraft radios and electronics, flight suits, flight computers, much more. This level is where you will find the MaxFlight simulator and the space exploration section.
We took the far end elevator down to the Eagle Hanger where the warbird collection is stored and from there continued through the rest of the museum. There are way to many aircraft and exhibits to go into detail in a blog post. You could easily spend all day and not see everything. Besides the airplanes themselves, exhibits include pilot accessories and tools. Also, don’t pass up the interactive exhibits. There are short videos to watch and flight simulator software to try – among other activities.
Before the afternoon was over, we wanted to get to Pioneer Airport so we caught the tram from the museum over to the field.When you step out the back door of the museum, it looks like it would be an easy walk to Pioneer Airport. Don’t do it! That nice grassy area you see is an active runway. Instead of dodging landing airplanes, wait a few minutes and take the tram.
By now it was about 2:30 and we hadn’t had lunch so we stopped in the airport snack bar for sandwiches and chips. The sandwiched were good and the folks working over there are very friendly. There is no food allowed in the main museum so plan to make this your lunch stop.
The seven hangers at Pioneer Airport are each stuffed with vintage aircraft and engines. Wings and tails hang from many of the ceilings and walls. Some of the aircraft are original while others are reproduction but, they are all interesting.
On most days, you would be able to get a ride in a biplane or the Ford Tri-Motor from here. The Tri-Motor was out on tour and the winds were kicking up just a little too strongly for the biplanes so we weren’t able to get a flight. The pilots were taking kids up for Young Eagles flights though and it was fun just hearing them talk about the exciting time they had.
By now it was getting close to the 5pm closing time so we rode the tram back to the museum and paid a visit to the gift shop before leaving to check into the hotel for the night.
We got our room, left the cameras and suitcase then went out for dinner. Sunday morning we slept in a little then made the drive home – with a stop at the Mars Cheese Castle for lunch and shopping.
This was a wonderful trip for our first overnight since Georgia has been feeling better. We had no problems and feel confident that we can do more traveling in the near future.