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Thread: AirVenture First Come First Serve Policy - Time for a Change

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Sad AirVenture First Come First Serve Policy - Time for a Change

    I am a long term EAA member (0068108) since 1971. I have always lived on the west coast. During that time I have flown many airplanes (including two homebuilts) to AirVenture. In the 1990's I had several instances where I flew all the way from the west coast only to be turned around at Fisk with the airport being closed. Very frustrating after flying all that way to be stopped short with a full airport.

    So I gave up flying my own airplane to AirVenture and just flew in commercial. Not being able to find lodging anywhere around Oshkosh I would often stay in Madison and rent a car to AirVenture for a couple of days. Lots of driving and not much fun.

    So now I have a nice RV that I would like to take to AirVenture. The problem is you cannot secure a camp site ahead of time, no matter how far you are coming to attend the event. I just watched a YouTube video where a fellow EAA member from Green Bay was setting up his camp site one month before the event because that is how the rules work. This fellow has secured a prime camping spot with this routine every year for 30 years and was quite proud of his record.

    Obviously I cannot do this living on the west coast. My only choice is to drive 2,100 miles then take whatever is available generally a long way from AirVenture in Camp Scholler.

    We need a system of reservations or some kind of lottery that allows folks traveling a long way by airplane or RV/tent to know with certainty that they have a place to enjoy AirVenture. The present system of first come first serve is biased to fellow members who live close to Oshkosh.

    I have been communicating with a fellow EAA member who lives in Australia. He is flying to the US, then renting an RV to experience AirVenture. He is bringing his wife and would like to have a quality experience. But he just has to take his chances with the rest of us about how good that experience may be with all the quality spots at Camp Scholler taken by those who squat on the best spots a month before the event begins.

    This must change.
    Last edited by turbopilot; 06-10-2013 at 11:29 PM.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Stevens Point, WI
    You could always make reservations here. It's a great place to stay, and relatively close to the grounds. Last year they were even giving folks a ride to the grounds on a big golf cart.

  3. #3
    CarlOrton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    DFW Area
    Do you have a proposal?

    i was sitting here trying to think of a way to do it but am drawing a blank. I stay in the dorms so am not familiar with the intricacies of Scholler, but face a similar issue each year since my wife wants an air conditioned room. That means I must make sure I call the reservation line at 0800 on July 1st, or the rooms will be gone.

    For Scholler, even if you could garner a good location, how would you know it's the best? As in, just cuz you secured a spot in Area A, how do you know that the spot you end up with doesn't have a low area that collects water? Or any other little annoyance that could make a prime spot less desirable than some spot a bit further out?

    what you could do, that I know is done, is to buy an Oshkosh RV and store it 11 months out of the year in a nearby self storage shed. Fly out the week Scholler opens, move it to a spot you'd love, then go home until show time. Or find someone local who'd do it for you.

    Carl Orton
    Sonex #1170 / Zenith 750 Cruzer

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Oshkosh, WI
    To turbopilot, and others reading this thread: You can plan your AirVenture trip and be confident that you will have a "quality experience."

    Regarding being "turned around at Fisk with the airport being closed" I'm not aware of any instance of a show plane (homebuilt, vintage, warbird, etc.) ever being turned away due to insuffient space at Oshkosh. And no general aviation plane was turned away in 2012 or 2011. Very unusual ground conditions in 2010 did cause some airport diversions, which no priority system could have prevented. There are occasional times when the airport is closed due to scheduled events (such as the airshow) or unscheduled events (such as a special fly-over or a temporary problem on a runway), but that's just a normal part of airport operation and might delay but shouldn't prevent your arrival at Oshkosh.

    And if you plan to drive to Camp Scholler, you can also be confident of finding space. Yes, some folks want a "special spot", which they stake out (and pay for!) many days before the show. But whenever you arrive you will find ample camp sites available, where you can be among other aviation enthusiasts. We don't need a "lottery" --everyone is already a winner.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    I can't imagine driving an RV to Oshkosh from California, which, using your figures for milage is 4200 miles round trip. Say you averaged 50 mph, then that is 84 hours of someone having to sit behind the wheel and stare at the road. Counting stops for food, rest rooms, and gas that is at least 4 full days of driving, and likely more. Now that is if you use 24 hour days, but not many people can safely drive all day and all night so if you use 12 hours days that is 7or 8 full days of driving
    If you were to stay the entire week, which most people probably don't, the whole 7 days at EAA and spent 8 days driving, then you have spent the same time that you have at the convention just to drive there.
    If you average 10 miles per gallon that is 420 gallons at $4 for gas and oil so $1680. Any one or two people, could almost certainly find round trip airline flights for less than that, if you are in an area served by Southwest or you might find a good air fare if shopped for well in advance.
    Perhaps someone had another destination they wanted to see or visit along the way.
    Even within the past few months, I know there were some B&B s or private houses for rent in the area as well as some discount motels in Appleton or Fon du Lac, etc.
    If you arrive the week of the convention with no room reservation, then that is another matter.
    Can one drive all the way from Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl game and find a hotel room on the spot with no reservation?
    I have been going to EAA for about 30 years, often but not always with a showplane, and the only year when there was no parking for me was the rain out year when I landed at a nearby airport from which there is bus service to EAA as well as rental cars which are available if you reserve well in advance.
    Everyone has their own tastes, but for me the idea of sitting in an RV for a week of interstate highways, is about like spending the time in a dentist chair listening to Rush Limpboy and watching bowling on tv.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 06-11-2013 at 08:38 AM.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by CarlOrton View Post

    Do you have a proposal?
    In reply to several posts.

    The last time I flew a homebuilt to AirVenture was 1978, since then only store bought airplanes. Between weather contingencies and airport closures getting into AirVenture many years was a nightmare before 2009. Not a big deal if you are coming in from a nearby state, you can just turn around and go home. But when you have just spend most of the day flying from California, landing at an alternate airport with no rental cars and no hotel rooms can turn into a real and costly mess.

    Sleepy Hollow has been full for some time.

    As for Camp Scholler, AirVenture is a big event. Folks are coming a long way, spending a lot of money to experience AirVenture. First come, first serve allocation of scarce resources is unfair to members coming from great distances.

    Check out this video which documents the early registration process. Pretty much says it all. These are fine people wanting the best experience. I can't blame them for working the system by setting up 30 days early. But the poor guy dragging his Winnebago in after driving 5 days from California is going to placed a mile away in a pasture next to US41.

    I don't like to complain without a specific recommendation. The same issue that exists at Camp Scholler exists in many National and State Parks. Too many people struggle for the resources at the same time in Summer. All National Park Campgrounds and most popular State Park Campgrounds have an automated reservation system. Typically you can sign up for these spots months in advance. Everyone in the world has equal access to the internet so there is no bias for folks living close to the venue.

    For example here is the reservation page for Rogue River State Park in Oregon. ReserveAmerica is one of several commercial services that allow turnkey reservation services for various venues.

    So my proposal is simple. AirVenture should automate the process of securing camping spots in Camp Scholler. No more land rushes a month before the event starts.

    Same system could be used for store bought aircraft parking. Land without a reservation number when the airport is full and you can't park.
    Last edited by turbopilot; 06-11-2013 at 08:16 AM.

  7. #7
    I have to agree with the OP.

    I travelled from Australia to Oshkosh in 2011. We hired an RV in Chicago and made the drive up, camping at Scholler for the week. It was very disappointing not being able to reserve a powered site for our arrival, although we were extremely fortunate to find a non-powered site close to the main entrance to the camp. I can't see that it would be all that difficult to organise a booking system. Simply number all the sites, and then sell them off with reservations being supplied to purchasers with their site numbers so that they have written confirmation to sort out any disputes if their site is taken by another person.

    As it stands, there is a disadvantage to travelling from any great distance with a view to camping for the week of the show. That said, I am coming again this year with 2 mates, and once again we are driving an RV up from Chicago. We are disappointed that there will be a lack of current military involvement, but the warbirds you guys have over there should do more than compensate!

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    I have been out to Oshkosh from Connecticut twice in an RV. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and had no problem finding a decent spot to setup. The thing is, Camp Scholler is basically a giant field. There aren't many spots that are "better" than others. About the only difference is how far you are from the entrance to the show. Even parking out all the way by the highway it isn't more than a 10 minute walk to the enterence. You are going to spend all day walking around the grounds so I don't see the problem with a little more walking each morning and afternoon to get back and forth to your camper. If you want you can even bring your bicycle to get back and forth to the show or just wait by the bathrooms and catch the free bus that runs through the campground every few minutes.

    Another option if you can find decent flights and a rental car is to rent an RV or camper for the week. I have a friend that rents a prop-up each year. The company he rents from brings the camper in early, sets it up, and takes it back down when you leave. They are usually setup right over by the fly-in theater. I am pretty sure there are companies that do this with RV's as well.

    Finally, consider renting a house for the week. For what you will pay in gas to get out and back in the RV you can rent a house a few minutes from the show. I have done this in the past with another friend and it worked out great. It was nice to be able to go back after the show each day to a place with a full kitchen, air conditioning, and a bathroom.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by kmacht View Post
    Finally, consider renting a house for the week.
    Folks, just for the record, I have been going to AirVenture for over 40 years. I have always travelled a long way to make the adventure. I have slept under the wing of my homebuilt, stayed in dorms, hotels and tents. I have flown in via homebuilt, airline and store bought airplanes. I have sat in a line of hundreds of other airplanes at Madison when Oshkosh is closed for weather or saturation, then tried to figure out the next step when our hotel was 90 miles away and no way to get there.

    While attendance has been down in recent years AirVenture it is a big event now. It is not the same event that I first discovered in the early 1970's when I flew my first homebuilt to the event.

    Everyone makes different choices to attend this great event. I am simply suggesting when it comes to more demand than supply for limited resources our fine organization should consider another system other than a "land rush" 30 days before an event.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Clarklake, MI
    I had pretty much the same feelings as the OP when I first attended Oshkosh in the early '80's. Drive 1200 miles from Louisiana and see 100's of prime campsites in Scholler staked out and vacant. So I picked from what was left over. Since I knew I couldn't change the way Oshkosh works I just decided to take the lemons and make lemonade. Have enjoyed many EAA Fly-ins since. I don't think any reservation or lottery is needed, in reality, the demand is not greater than supply, unless you are speaking about the demand for a front row seat. In the end, I'd rather choose my "crappy" camp site than to have it assgined.

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