August 3, 2014

Oshkosh from 3 Feet AGL: EAA AirVenture from a Child’s Perspective

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Written by: Sarina Houston
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One of the best things about EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is watching people become enamored with aviation, especially children. As an aviator, there’s nothing better than watching a child’s face light up in an enormous grin when they sit in the cockpit of an airplane for the first time, fly a simulator or build an airfoil to test in the wind tunnel.The view from three feet AGL (above ground level) is a bit different from that at five or six feet, and in more ways than one. Kids are just as captivated by airplanes flying overhead as adults are, but these airplanes look even bigger and sound even louder to the smaller versions of us. I sat next to two girls, for example, who couldn’t contain their excitement for each and every aircraft that flew overhead, while the adults next to them sat anxiously awaiting the USAF Thunderbirds, all but ignoring the light aircraft departures. More than that, the view of Oshkosh at three feet AGL is uncomplicated by adult influence (although our large bodies surely get in their way from time to time!)

Reaching out to the future of aviation – our kids – was a hot topic this year at EAA AirVenture, and an important one for the growth of aviation. If you’ve seen KidVenture, then you know that nobody inspires the future of aviation better than the Experimental Aircraft Association at Oshkosh. Each year at Oshkosh, EAA volunteers spend an entire week volunteering at KidVenture, and they do it with optimism and excitement. It’s because of these volunteers that many of these children first fall in love with aviation.

KidVenture is an area where kids are the aviation heroes. There are hangars full of hands-on activities, helicopter rides, toys and games, and of course, airplanes to look at. It’s a happy place for any child, as these photos demonstrate.

(Click on the photo to enlarge)


There’s a certain innocence that comes with being a child that makes air shows like EAA AirVenture even more magical for kids than for adults. Children have no knowledge yet of regional airline woes, the high cost of flying or the exhaustion that sets in after a full week’s work put in by an aviation executive at a booth at Oshkosh. Their view is a raw, uncomplicated one, and one we should all revisit from time to time.

Seeing Oshkosh from the perspective of a child is a good reminder to us “big people” to get back to basics – fast airplanes, loud noises and hands-on action are all we need to create inspiration. But a child’s attention is fleeting, and if we don’t keep the world fun and interesting, we’ll lose them.


Sarina Houston, Assignment Editor, is a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor who works full time as an aviation writer. You can find her at About.com or on Twitter.  

About the Author

Sarina Houston



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  • capnaux

    Great article, and cute photos, Sarina! I didn’t discover this little gem until the last day, when the clouds were threatening and the Oshkosh world was evacuating. I’d like to explore it more next year!

    • Sarina Houston

      Thanks, Eric! It made me wish my kids were there with me. Next time!

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