Now that we've ticked over into July, it's time to start thinking about Oshkosh in earnest. Actually, to be accurate, we never really stop thinking about it, but the pace quickens as it gets closer.
Over the years, your faithful parking volunteers have heard some variation of the following questions roughly ninety jillion times:
1. "How early do I have to get here to get a good parking spot?" or its close cousin:
2. I got here early on purpose! Why do I have to park so far away from the showers/so close to the showers/ way in the back/ way in the front/ etc etc etc?
The answer to the first question is simple, if a bit sarcastic- there are no good parking spots at Oshkosh. Really. Because good parking spots are very much in the eye of the beholder, and we have no way to know what is going on in your eye. Some folks like being right next to the showers/ bathrooms, others can't stand the noise. Some like being right up front close to the crowds, some want to be as far in the back as they can for the peace and quiet.
Historically, we have filled HBC starting in the back (far west end) and working east. That doesn't make a lot of sense to some, until you consider this- the non-camping RV parking area (called Area 51 or the Sea of RVs) is to the area just east of HBC. And, as some of you know, we start parking in this area on the far east end (just west of Van's tent) and work west. HBC starts west and works east, parking starts east and works west, and we meet in the middle, somewhere around the 50 yard line. We can usually guess with some accuracy where the border will end up, but it is not an exact science and each year we make some adjustments to the border as needed. This would not be possible if we started at the border and worked out in each direction.
Make sense? Good, because now we are going to change it up. Based on the feedback we've gotten over the years since HBC came into existence, and with the additional real estate we've gained by taking over the former red auto parking lot, we are going to, for the first time, make an effort to get inside the eye of the beholder and divine the ideal parking spot for each arriving airplane. How will we do this? The same way everything else is communicated at Oshkosh- visually.
The procedure for arriving pilots is the same. Once on the ground, show your HBC sign to each and every orange vest you encounter. Once you arrive at the entrance to HBC, you will be greeted by something new- an orange vested volunteer with a sign of their own, which will look something like this:
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO CAMP?
#1. UP FRONT - LESS WALKING
#2. OUT BACK – LESS TRAFFIC
#3. CLOSE TO FACILITIES
The options are numbered. After considering the options, pick one and show the appropriate number of fingers to the flagman, who will then direct you appropriately. Rocking your wings to acknowledge is not necessary. (Note: if your choice is option #1, please use the correct finger. This goes without saying, but I insert it for the benefit of the KC boys
Keep in mind that this will be time and space permitting. Depending on when you get there, there may or may not be anything left in your chosen area. We will get you as close to your choice as we can, but as usual, if you want a good seat to the show, get there early.
As this is the first year of a new procedure, there is bound to be a learning curve, so bear with us. As always we welcome your feedback, as we are always looking for ways to improve the experience. I look forward to seeing many of you at the big show in a few weeks. As always, fly safe and READ THE NOTAM!