Adventures in Oshkosh

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The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) museum, 3000 Poberenzy Rd., Oshkosh, is home to over 200 historic airplanes. The site allows visitors to learn all about aviation from the pioneer days to current times.

For whatever reason, I always have huge ‘must see’ and ‘must do’ lists each summer that rarely seem to get finished.

I remember going to Oshkosh to see the EAA Airventure fly-in as a kid, but I haven’t been back. As such, it made the above list(s) this year.

With only days to spare until the official start of fall, I made it my mission to make the visit happen. Better late than never, right?

Driving along curvy Highway 26, I started to think that waiting until the very end of summer might not have been such a bad thing.

The leaves are changing, making for great scenery during the two-hour drive. It is nice to enjoy a leisurely day or weekend trip, and Oshkosh is a perfect candidate for either.

In an effort to learn a bit more about the town before going out to explore, I first stopped at the Oshkosh Public Museum, 1331 Algoma Blvd., during my getaway.

Though I’m not sure what I was expecting the public museum to look like, I certainly didn’t envision it being inside a stately 17,600-square-foot mansion.

Built in 1908-1909 for Edgar P. Sawyer and his wife Mary Jewell Sawyer, the home certainly shows that their work in the lumber industry was successful.

Woodwork, stained glass windows, statues, a grand staircase and full-wall tapestries gave the home a luxurious feel.

Today, many small treasures like tea sets are displayed in the home’s former library, which features a geometric pressed-plaster Tiffany & Co. ceiling.

Lucky for the museum, the ceiling was not installed the “proper” way.

In 1994, a terrible fire at the home would have destroyed the ceiling. The blaze caused massive damage and ruined some artifacts at the museum, but other pieces were able to be saved through restoration work.

Nowadays the home’s interior is gleaming once again, and the museum is continuing to give visitors a glimpse at history dating from the settlement of area tribes to the fur trading boom and beyond.

For those looking to visit the museum and have the special treat of learning about Oshkosh’s haunted history, ghost tours are happening on Saturdays in October. To learn more about the museum, visit www.oshkoshmuseum.org.

Across town, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) museum, 3000 Poberezny Rd., is another great Oshkosh location to visit. Seeing that the fly-in was my initial connection to Oshkosh, I had to stop by.

The EAA was founded by the late Paul H. Poberezny, an aviator and aircraft designer, in 1953. The association is comprised of individuals who love aviation and want to share its history.

From the outside, few would guess that over 200 aircraft are displayed in the museum, but somehow the EAA got them all to fit!

A replica of the 1903 Wright “Flyer” is on site, as is a 1912 Curtiss A-1 Pusher, 1928 Waco 10 ‘Taperwing’ and 1931 Laird “Super Solution” air racing plane, among many others.

Inside the Eagle Hangar, a North American B-25 Mitchell, designed in 1939, is displayed beneath the American flag. The massive plane has twin engines, a bomb bay and machine gun turrets.

In addition to seeing all of the planes, visitors of all ages can enjoy hands-on activities related to aviation and the science behind making a plane fly. There is a special area just for kids.

Outside the museum, at Pioneer Airport, kids can also get a free introductory flight as part of the Young Eagles Program.

For adults, there are several opportunities to take to the sky as well, as tickets can be purchased for a biplane ride. For more information, visit www.eaa.org.

Although I’ve flown plenty of times, aviation is still very interesting to me, and I’m hoping to make it back to Airventure with my dad again someday.

Equally so, I’m hoping to come back to Oshkosh and enjoy what it is like in the “true” summer time so I can take a stroll down the riverwalk and enjoy the Farmers Market.

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