Some people have asked me what could possibly be in Oshkosh, WI? Of course, everyone loves a good cheese product from America’s Dairyland, but for some of my less well-traveled friends, that’s where it ends for them.

But for an avid traveler and possibly even an aviation nut like me, Oshkosh is home to one of America’s largest air shows. Recently released figures say that over 540,000 people visited the weeklong 2011 Oshkosh EAA AirVenture celebration, an increase of almost 1.5% according to the EAA.

Oshkosh is the veritable melting pot for aviators. The show boasts healthy doses of all types of aircraft, including historic planes, fighter jets, executive jets, government aircraft, gliders, experimental aircraft, homemade birds, commercial airplanes, general aviation gems, and really anything else you could possibly think of. One of the headline visits this year was from Boeing’s 787-8 aircraft, which opened its doors for cabin tours on Friday.

On Saturday – aptly nicknamed “Super Saturday – the passengers onboard Southwest 8725 flew into Oshkosh (OSH) from Chicago-Midway (MDW). My dad and I had arrived the night before on Southwest 391 from BWI. First, some pictures from the Saturday checkin and boarding at Chicago-Midway. I met Christi Day-McNeill and Brandy King (both new media/PR employees at Southwest Airlines), with whom I’ve talked to mainly on Twitter.  In the security line, I met Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, photographer extraordinaire from NYCAviation.com.

The departure FID.

Gate A11, where our 737-700 was parked.

Onboard WN8725 to OSH, N940WN.

Onboard WN8725 to OSH, N940WN.

Departing MDW for OSH.

On finals for OSH, the airport can be seen on the left side of the window.

Excited onlookers take pictures as N940WN taxis in.

Deplaning onto the Wittman Regional Airport tarmac.

After arrival and deplaning.

After we arrived, my dad and I decided to explore the airshow. There are too many pictures to post on the blog, but you can see my full Oshkosh album with plenty of pictures on my Flickr account.

After a full six or seven hours of exploring the show, we went to the Southwest Airlines VIP tent, where we had a front row seat for the actual airshow, which began at 2:00 PM local time.

Entrance to the VIP tent.

Again, there are too many photos of the airshow to reasonably post, but some of my favorites are below. Again, access the full album at the link above.

Flying in formation.

This woman walked right in front of my lens as I tried to get a pic of the glider landing, but it's actually become one of my favorite pictures.

While I was at the tent, I had a chat with Dan Lansdon, a news producer for Las Vegas’s 8 News Now. He was perhaps one of the most friendly guys that I met while at the airshow, and we had no problem striking up a conversation.

As we walked back to the airplane for our flight back to Chicago, the skies turned ominous and the winds picked up dramatically, swirling dust and dirt everywhere.

No longer blue skies.

We were a bit delayed on departure back to MDW due to the weather. But after about an hour sitting onboard, we took off back to Chicago (and reality). Departure video is below.

It had been a long day and I basically fell asleep after departure, but here’s one last picture from the sky, almost with a heavenly effect.

Heavens opening up.

Are you an #avgeek? Well if so, then heaven might as well be your land of fruit and honey.

Full disclosure: Southwest Airlines provided the author with round-trip flights to Chicago-Midway, access to the ferry flight and the Southwest VIP tent, and two night’s accommodation at the Marriott Chicago-Midway Hotel, all free of charge. We thank Southwest for their hospitality and their gracious gestures.


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