Walking around EAA AirVenture this year, I saw the next generation of airplane enthusiasts being brought up. There are some who are concerned that the population of the aviation faithful is increasingly getting older with fewer young people joining the fold. However, for some aviation has been part of their lives since birth. Coming to airshows like AirVenture helps start a lifetime of interest.
My parents started me young—I spent nearly every weekend of my life at an airport until I was five, while my parents were building their Experimental plane. The first time I remember coming to AirVenture with my dad was when I was nine. For a few years afterwards, when my parents left for Oshkosh they tried to get me and my younger sisters to stay with grandparents, but I had caught the bug. Eventually, my nagging must have gotten the better of them, and now the whole family gets to come every year.
Airshows have something to fascinate everyone. The sheer number of different colors and size of airplanes are exciting for the youngest children, and as they get older the fun comes from learning about the planes—what each one is called, what they can do, what makes them different. The wonderful thing about general aviation is that there is always something more you can learn. Now that I am in flight training to get my license and part of a group that is building a plane of our own, new layers of interest, understanding and questions have been revealed.
With the increasing price of fuel and the expense of flight training, there are more and more excuses to put off things like finishing up the license or project. But seeing the looks on the faces of the kids at AirVenture can remind us of the first time we caught the airplane bug and why we still have it.