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Touching base: Enjoying AirVenture’s seaplane facility

  • A seaplane makes a dramatic arrival to the EAA AirVenture seaplane base in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Photos by Mike Collins.
  • A kayaker paddles past a moored Piper Cub on floats.
  • AirVenture seaplane base volunteers tow a de Havilland Beaver to the dock.
  • Even during the summer it is important to warm up radial engines before takeoff.
  • Moored seaplanes obediently turn into the wind.
  • Splashdown—er, touchdown.
  • This de Havilland Beaver is taxiing out of the parking area at the AirVenture seaplane base.
  • This Glasair Sportsman on floats is on display at the AirVenture seaplane base.
  • This pontoon boat is taking visitors on a tour of the seaplane base’s mooring area.
  • This Republic Seabee is front and center in the moorings.
  • Visitors examine a diminutive floatplane at the AirVenture seaplane base.

There’s a little-known secret that insiders savor during EAA’s weeklong AirVenture. Only 3.8 nautical miles southeast of the hectic bustle and wonderment at Wittman Regional Airport is the AirVenture seaplane base—technically Oshkosh Seaplane Base (96WI), a water landing area that operates only during AirVenture. Nestled in a lagoon on the west side of Lake Winnebago, a visit here provides a refreshing escape. Tall trees provide abundant shade throughout the day, and there always seems to be a breeze.

Like seaplane flying itself, the seaplane base offers an oasis of tranquility. It has its own camping area, vendors, and food services. Visit in the morning to enjoy coffee and pastries, as you watch the temporary community slowly come to life. During the afternoon you’ll find people sitting around the many picnic tables, talking; a few may stretch out on a shady patch of grass for a short nap. Many evenings find social activities.

All day, pontoon-boat tours of the seaplane anchorage are offered, along with periodic seminars and presentations. You’ll see some floatplane flying, too, as pilots come and go. Count on seeing a wide variety of seaplanes, from amphibians to flying boats.

If you visit long enough for the wind to shift, you can watch as all the seaplanes moored in the lagoon obediently turn to remain facing into the breeze. Never been? From AirVenture, it’s a short drive or an easy $3 bus ride from the airshow grounds.

Mike Collins
Mike Collins
Technical Editor
Mike Collins, AOPA technical editor and director of business development, died at age 59 on February 25, 2021. He was an integral part of the AOPA Media team for nearly 30 years, and held many key editorial roles at AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, and AOPA Online. He was a gifted writer, editor, photographer, audio storyteller, and videographer, and was an instrument-rated pilot and drone pilot.
Topics: Seaplane, EAA AirVenture, Events

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