The international visitor’s tent at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture has been called the United Nations of Oshkosh by some.
Thousands of people from all over the world come to the convention.
But it’s more than just a tent.
Visitors and tent volunteers say it’s its own community…And it’s a community that keeps on growing.
”It’s a whole group of people; like-minded people who just want to camp and experience aviation in Oshkosh, which is nothing else like it in the world,” said Neil Bowden organizer for the South Africa AirVenture group.
For the past 22 years, Neil has organized the AirVenture travel packages from South Africa.
But this year, he tells FOX 11 his crew of South African aviation enthusiasts arrived in Oshkosh with the largest group ever.
Last year, they set a record of 163 people…this year, 237 people are filling the 162 tents at Camp Schoeller.
The South African group is also the first there to ever have a permanent small shed on their site.
“We’re part of the whole Camp Schoeller/Oshkosh camping area, and it’s great because people – our neighbors – camp next to us, they come and mix with us, they come and talk with us, and I just feel like part of the whole scene.”
“They make connections and friendships that, outside of Oshkosh, maybe wouldn’t be possible,” AirVenture International Visitors Tent chairwoman Michel Bryson said.
“Here, there’s not politics, there’s no religion, it’s just airplanes and friendships.”
The number of visitors checked-in at the tent is already up.
The international tent has seen 200 more guests than it did this time last year.
For another international visitor, it seems nothing will stop him from attending AirVenture, not age or even cancer.
Eighty-eight-year-old Australian Dave Thomas has been making the trip to Oshkosh since the 70s.
He tells FOX 11 his passion for aviation has done more than keep him coming back each year.
“The only love in life, the only thing keeping me alive is flying airplanes, and talking about airplanes to people – these lovely people here,” Thomas said.
Over 2,000 people are representing over 70 countries, all speaking the universal language of aviation.
– File/Photo credit to Raymond Neupert, WRN