For 38 years, John Kent has been traveling from London, England to Oshkosh for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture.
While Kent can recall much of what’s changed in Oshkosh over the years, from restaurants, to the Grand Opera House to the construction and reconstruction of downtown banks and buildings, one thing always remains the same during his annual trip: Kent stays at Grunehagen Conference Center on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus.
“Campus is central,” Kent said.
Like an annual reunion, Kent meets up with many of his AirVenture friends who also stay on campus. In fact, this year alone, 4,500 people will utilize UW Oshkosh’s Gruenhagen and other residence halls for lodging.
“All the friends I’ve met here are American, of course,” Kent said. “People in England don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “AirVenture.” I say I’m going to look at airplanes; they think I’m mad.”
A retired aircraft engineer, Kent said he simply likes airplanes, and that’s why he comes to what’s been coined “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration” each summer. Plus, he usually comes to town early to get reacquainted with Oshkosh.
“I come to see the air show. If you are in aviation, you tend to stay with it. It’s hard to get out,” he said. “I like to get around town, eat at the restaurants, see what’s been demolished and what’s been built.”
While on the AirVenture grounds, Kent said he “likes to see everything.”
“New aircraft, old aircraft and I like to see the technology, which keeps changing.”
This year, Kent is especially excited to get a peak at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is scheduled to make its landmark appearance at AirVenture on Friday, July 29. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an all-new airplane featuring a host of technologies that provide exceptional value to airlines and comfort to passengers.
As AirVenture week wraps up, so does Kent’s stay, which is something he’s become used to after 38 years.
“I say goodbye to my friends, we might share a few emails, but otherwise it’s ‘good bye, see you next year,’” he said.