By John Weir, EAA 500608, Ottawa EAA Chapter 245
AirVenture 2022 was once again well-represented by EAA Chapter 245 at our usual locale, right behind the Fly-In Theater. Phillip Johnson does his magic every year to organize what I think is the best location for camping on the entire Camp Scholler property — it certainly is the closest camping to the main entrance! This year we also welcomed Winnipeg’s EAA Chapter 65 to our encampment, hereafter referred to as Camp Johnson, an affluent urban district of Camp Scholler.
I’ll be straight with you; camping was not my first choice. I’m not the spring chicken I used to be. I’ve grown very fond of life’s simple comforts like private toilets, showers, and beds with pillows and blankets! My lovely wife tried valiantly to get me Oshkosh accommodations on or near AirVenture in the months leading up to it, to no avail. I resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted to go, I’d have to camp. As it would happen, one day while on a Costco run, that same valiant lady found and bought me a fold-up cot! This sealed the deal for me. I was going to rough it, but I was going to The Show! I would not regret that decision!
I had planned on staying three or four days; however, due to how comfortable my cot turned out to be, I ended up staying six full days! I arrived on Tuesday to the VIP treatment. Shortly after parking my aircraft, Phil picked me up at my homebuilt parking (HBP) spot in what I would later learn was the EAACC (EAA Canadian Council) “official” golf cart! I’ll say more on that golf cart later, but not having to schlep my heavy load of consumer electronics and whisky (did I mention I’m a Scot?) from HBP to the camp was a great start to what would turn out to be a great week! As soon as I arrived at Camp Johnson, I exchanged greetings with other chapter members I knew, and was introduced to some others I had not yet met. Very soon thereafter, several of the Camp Johnson Corps of Engineers helped me set up my tent and get my humble accommodations organized and furnished lickety-split.
I can’t recall if it was the arrival day or the morning after (did I mention the whisky??) I was introduced to Jeff Seaborn, chair of the EAA Canadian Council. We exchanged pleasantries and as the week passed, I saw what an asset Jeff and the other volunteers are to the EAA Canadian Council in general and the chapters in attendance specifically. The EAACC also sponsored a fine free breakfast with some great presenters where Jeff expressed his appreciation of the volunteers and to several well-deserving EAA chapter members for their contributions to EAA specifically and our extended GA family in general.
The days started early at Camp Johnson. There was of course the informal breakfasts and coffee; some chapter members attended formal breakfast meetings and other functions related to EAA business. There were many other morning events at AirVenture 2022 that attracted the attention of each of the chapter members. After breakfast, many of us broke into smaller groups and went our separate ways to follow our specific interests among the myriad of options. Because of the convenient location of Camp Johnson, some of us would return to camp around lunchtime to grab a bite and a quick rest for weary feet before heading back through the gates for our afternoon agendas.
The late afternoon usually saw everyone gather back at Camp Johnson for some cocktails, witty banter, and taking in a little of the late afternoon air show performances from the comfort of our lawn chairs (I told you that that location is mint!). After an appropriate amount of social lubrication there were several evening functions attended by almost everyone at the camp. These included but were not limited to a beer and appetizers evening put on by the International EAA, a fine pulled pork “swinefest” dinner, and karaoke hosted by Phil’s good friend Mikey Youngs and his fine crew. On other days some folks opted to travel off-site in search of a local restaurant meal.
The evenings were largely taken up with folks relaxing around the campsite, sharing details of the day’s adventure and making plans for the next day. From our site we enjoyed the evening air show performers and a couple of evening fireworks demonstrations that were nothing short of spectacular. The angels looking over our site ensured that there was cold beer, wine, and whisky aplenty, and some of us did our very best to ensure the stock did not get stale. The golf cart became our primary means of transporting large quantities of ice from the Red Barn to the various camp coolers! The weather was wonderful for the whole week.
The proximity of our site to the Fly-In Theater made it very easy to take in the movie evenings. As an aside, this proximity facilitated the implementation of a preventive dehydration program for some of the Camp Johnson residents. Okay, maybe it was just me; it’s hot there! I have been to many of the movies over the years and they are generally well-attended; however, one of this year’s movies may have broken all records, Top Gun: Maverick. The place was packed, the seams had burst, and people were taking up every square centimeter of vacant ground that still had a view of the screen no matter how far and/or oblique. I’d guess close to 2,000 people attended. As I understand it there was a rumor of a possible guest appearance by Mr. Cruise that may have contributed to the attendance level. While this didn’t happen, there was an appearance by Kevin LaRosa II. He was a stunt camera pilot on Top Gun: Maverick and coordinated a team of 20 for the work. Prior to the start he described many of the big scenes and shared various details on how these action sequences were done, sans CGI.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. I departed early Sunday morning, dismantling my home for the past week and taking one last ride in the ‘Ice Cart’ back to HBP. The departure was made easier by the early hour and soon I was flying up the Door Peninsula in severe clear conditions. My thoughts fell back to the previous week and how much I enjoyed the chapter camaraderie, the air shows, static displays, seminars, and presentations, to name just a few. While sleeping in a tent on a cot may not qualify as glamping, it made my week so much more comfortable that I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. I believe one thing that could make next year’s adventure better would be having even more chapter participants. Get a cot!
A big thanks from the EAA Canadian Council members who were also made very welcome by Chapter 245. – Ed.