Oshkosh Showcases Aviation’s Bright Future - By Capt. Joe DePete

I recently attended EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh for the first time. While I had the chance to meet with several important aviation leaders and fly in the right seat of a Ford Tri-Motor (thank you, retired Northwest Capt. Cody Welch and Delta MEC chairman Capt. Ryan Schnitzler), what struck me most about “the world’s greatest aviation celebration” was the incredible sense of community exhibited at this unique annual gathering. 


Regardless of our different backgrounds and experiences, everyone at the convention and fly-in had a fascination with flight and a desire to see aviation flourish. In today’s often-divisive world, Oshkosh demonstrated that more than half a million people can come together for a week and actually agree about something—the love of flying.


The other thing I noticed was the number of ALPA members in attendance, the many ways they were participating, and the family members who are continuing that legacy—like Capt. Margie Freeman (United) who was there with her daughter, Sydney, who recently earned her private pilot’s license flying a Cessna 172. And Capt. William “Skip” Stewart (FedEx Express), who flies the Pitts S-2S “Prometheus,” was entertaining Oshkosh attendees as one of the air show’s premier aerobatic acts. 


Capt. Mike Arcamuzi (FedEx Express), a longtime EAA member, was there with his daughters, Alex and Stephanie, who both became United first officers this past year, and his son, Harry, who starts with Endeavor Air this month. Meanwhile, F/O Ben Wallander (Delta) was working at an information booth promoting the aviation program at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. And, of course, dozens and dozens of other ALPA pilots attended, including those from our Professional Development Group who volunteered to staff our informational booth and work at EAA’s KidVenture.


These were only a few of the many people I encountered; I heard so many great stories about how our members are pursuing different aspects of flight and passing it on to the next generation. I left this experience with a great feeling about the future of air transportation. So many at Oshkosh were clearly passionate about their pursuit of flying—a sure sign that North America’s status as the global leader in aviation will endure. 


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