Getting around Oshkosh involves a lot of meandering through parking lots. As many as 100,000 people will drive in to enjoy the show on any given day. Thus tens of thousands of cars with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan plates surround the airfield. Having lived in Massachusetts for decades, I’m accustomed to cars whose owners have chosen to show the world how much smarter they are than average. The typical Prius in Cambridge, for example, will display bumper stickers showing that the owner voted for a slate of politicians who’ve promised to make the world a better place. These are augmented by direct statements of the owner’s plans for how other people should behave, e.g., a “Coexist” admonition with various religious symbols juxtaposed. How do they do it in the Midwest? The posteriors of the thousands of cars I walked by were shockingly naked. The handful of bumper stickers that I did see were references to obscure products for which the owner presumably had an enthusiasm. I did not see a single political bumper sticker nor any advocating a social cause.
Most of our evenings in Oshkosh were occupied with dinners for Experimental Aircraft Association supporters. At one we sat next to a quiet Air Force veteran named Blair Bozek. He had served as a crewmember on the SR-71 for 70 operational missions. Did he have any problems with the machine? we asked. “Just the usual hydraulic and electrical glitches,” was his response. We later Googled and found out that he’d had to eject out of a failed SR-71 and swim around in the South China Sea for a while. We decided to give him our “Master of Understatement” award.
A fundraising dinner for the EAA Young Eagles program yielded $2.1 million for a variety of items in a live auction. Generally the TV cameras would swing around to show the happy high bidder at the end of the auction for each item, e.g., a $375,000 customized Ford Mustang. Seemingly invariably it would be a pudgy grey-haired white guy sitting next to an attractive young blonde. I can’t quite figure out why Young Eagles needs so much money to operate, since the program is organized by local volunteers at various airports around the country. The actual rides for young people are given by local airplane owners who are not compensated. I have mixed feelings about the program. If someone said “I introduce young people to something fun, unnecessary, dangerous, and expensive”, my first thought would be “drug dealer”. There are a lot of programs to encourage young people to pursue careers in aviation. Is it kind to steer a young person toward a career in which there are 10 qualified people for every job? When the same young person could go into medicine and pick from 10 job openings for every qualified person?
Six of us found ourselves free one evening and of course ended up at Naughty Girls. My previous experience with gentlemen’s clubs had been in Canada. How does the American/Wisconsin strip club experience differ? Let’s just say that as a 6′ tall guy carrying some extra middle-aged weight you would have to abandon any idea that the strippers should be lighter than you. The high point of my evening was watching the youngest member of our gang (about 24 years old) put a dollar bill into a dancer’s panties while seemingly standing in a different zip code.