Saturday, March 28, 2009

Turning the Corner

At least I hope we’re turning the corner on the seasons. There’s the possibility of more snow this weekend, but we got about two inches of spring rain on Monday and Tuesday. Remarkably, with the sun and wind on Wednesday and Thursday the grounds dried fairly well.

It’s still kind of muddy on the grounds, so there’s more planning right now than actual projects. All the contractors will be having a powwow here within the next two weeks to finalize the exact order of getting things done. In a project of this size, there are so many people dependent on one another. Excavation crews, builders, electricians and everyone else want to know when they should be the grounds. And as anyone who has ever built anything knows, change orders cost time and money.

All in all, there’s a lot of eagerness to get going. It’s been a long winter, and it still doesn’t seem to want to end, but everybody wants to get outside and finish the job.

We’re also helping the Wisconsin Public Service Farm Show prepare for their event on the grounds next Tuesday through Thursday. That show uses all four exhibit hangars and the ground between them. Lots of big farm machinery will be here, most of which looks like it would really fun to play with. I’d like to snag a few pieces of the farm machinery after the show to help with the site construction, especially those rock pickers and seeders…

The new Vintage Aircraft type club/workshop building is coming along well. We should have the roof closed up this week. It took a while to finish the walls, since we had a few days of high winds a couple of weeks back.

There’s one change in the location of the Lost and Found area. Instead of at the Main Gate with the Oshkosh and regional/state Visitor Information booth, we’ve decided to put Lost and Found in a building just to the southwest of the SkyShoppe along the flight line. There are some reasons for that: That area supports the entire grounds, so a more centrally located spot is good for those from the North 40 aircraft camping area or the south end instead of going all the way to the Main Gate. The building by the Main Gate will now exclusively have information about Oshkosh and other cities in the region, as well as the state of Wisconsin.

We’re also finalizing locations for other buildings, such as the Protect Our Planes volunteers, program distribution and others, which we’ll talk about in coming weeks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Bite At A Time

Everybody’s in a much brighter mood around here this week. The temps broke into the high 50s and the 60s earlier this week and we lost much of the snow that seems to have been here for what seems like the last five decades.

As the snow leaves us, reality also starts to sink in on how much needs to get done before the gates open on July 27. It’s a challenge, to be sure, but it will be exciting as we accomplish each step.

There will be a couple changes in food stands at Oshkosh this year. With things moving around on the site, there’s an opportunity to adjust some food stands to prime traffic areas as the new look takes shape.

If you started attending AirVenture before 1995, you’ll recognize one of the new food locations. It will be at the corner of Waukau Avenue and Knapp Street Road, kitty-corner from the new control tower. Back in the “old” days, before Winnebago County expanded the airport property, the private owner had food service in their front yard. The old Shakey’s Pizza, which no longer exists in Oshkosh, set up shop there at the time.

Just an aside: I also recall that they had campers set up in the old cattle pasture there, too. I never was sure if that area kept all the “natural features” even as people put up their tents…

In addition, the food stands that last year were east of the FAA building, next to the Honda Pavilion, are now gone. Between the food stands just to the north across Waukau Ave., next to the Wearhouse and just east of AeroShell Square, that area is still well serviced.

Even with the relocated Main Gate, the Sacred Heart food stand will be staying in the same position on the newly rerouted Forest Home Avenue. There will also be a food stand at the intersection of Waukau Avenue and the northeast walkway leading from the Main Gate, as shown on the map here (click on it for a larger version).
I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past two weeks trying to put the final details on the basis site map that will be used for all the other maps you’ll be seeing in the coming weeks. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s good in some ways, since it focused us on finalizing locations for some areas where we still had questions.

One thing goes through my mind on occasion as we put the pieces together for 2009: I have to remind myself not to think of the grounds as they were last year, or in 1994 before we built the exhibit hangars, or even in the early 1980s when I was growing up just down the road from the AirVenture grounds. We must focus on what the grounds require to serve visitors in future years. It’s always easier remembering than predicting, because we know what happened in the past. We have to gauge the future using the best information we have right now.

All this leaves one final question: Do I take Louisville or North Carolina in the NCAA pool?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Main (Gate) Attraction

At long last, we’re getting confirmation on where some of the remaining buildings will be located after we moved them from the area just north of AeroShell Square.

We’ve already discussed the Chapter and Young Eagles buildings (at the corner of Waukau and Knapp Street Road); International Visitors’ Tent (just north of the Control Tower); and the IAC Headquarters (A little bit south of it former location, just east of AeroShell Square).

One other building that is a very popular stop is the combination Lost & Found/Area Visitor Information pavilion. This year, that building will be just inside the relocated Main Gate. As long as we’re talking about the Main Gate, let’s go through what you’ll see when you arrive at the Main Gate in 2009 (with a little help from a handy line map):

When you arrive for your first day, you’ll choose from one of two directions. You’ll either go to your left to the Ticket Purchase/Admissions building (1), or the Assistance Center/Will Call window (2).

If you purchased AirVenture tickets in advance online, you’ll head to the right to the Admissions building (3), where you’ll get your wristband.

EAA’s computer ops building (4) is behind the advance ticket exchange building, but is not open to the public.

The Lost & Found/Area Visitor Information building is just inside the Main Gate, to your left (5). It’s the place where representatives from Oshkosh, Fox Cities (Appleton), Fond du Lac and Wisconsin visitor and tourism bureau have maps and information about the area and the state.

There are a couple of locations I want to mention as well. Just outside the main gate to the left (6) is the location to pickup and rent handicapped scooters, wheelchairs and other mobility needs. You can reserve those in advance and I’d recommend that plan if you need one, as demand is high.

The final areas, on either side just outside the gates (7) are bicycle parking areas. You can get right to the Main Gate. I’d encourage you to bring a lock for your bike.

I hope that creates a picture of what to expect when you get to Oshkosh this year. We’re finalizing maps right now and we’ll share more of specific locations in coming weeks.

Just for your info: Winter won’t leave us alone. Our crews spent Sunday night plowing (again). About seven inches of snow fell. This week we’ve already snow, sun, rain, wind and cold. In March, Wisconsin is truly a four-season paradise. Sometimes within a single week…