AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, known to many pilots as just “Oshkosh”, is the greatest annual aviation celebration in the world. While other airshows attempt to boast the same designation, Oshkosh is truly an airshow above all others because it is created for all those interested in aviation and everyone is welcome to attend and enjoy aviation together as one community.
Oshkosh 2022 was an incredibly special Oshkosh for me personally. It was the first Oshkosh I experienced since my father, Dr. Irvin Gleim, passed and also the first Oshkosh I experienced with my sons. My emotions ran high (or low) at almost every corner of the airshow grounds where I had memories of being there with my dad, while I was also creating new memories with my sons. It was so gratifying to share the love of flying that my father instilled in me with my sons.
My first experience at Oshkosh was in 1988 when my father took me to work with him in the Gleim Aviation booth. Some of the experiences we shared in 1988, I tried to recreate and share with my sons: eating at the SOS concessions, seeing the warbirds and homebuilts, watching the airshow, and, of course, purchasing toy planes in the EAA warehouse.
The most memorable experience I had with my father in ’88 was meeting Paul Poberezny. One evening after the exhibits were closed, we were enjoying the airshow together when Mr. Poberezny walked by. My dad hailed him down so he could introduce him to me. Initially I could tell that Mr. Poberezny was busy and didn’t really want to be interrupted, but when my dad said he wanted to introduce him to me, his 9-year-old son, Mr. Poberezny smiled and came over and kneeled by me. He took a replica pin of his personal P-51 Mustang off of his hat and put it on the cap I was wearing. He told me he expected me to be a pilot one day. At the time, I had no idea the magnitude of what was happening, but I knew it was a big deal to my father. For the rest of the airshow, my dad would tell all of his friends—and quite a few customers who visited our booth—that I was wearing Paul Poberezny’s pin.
While I couldn’t introduce my sons to a pilot as legendary as Paul Poberezny—and I’m not sure there will ever be one who can match his remarkable influence on general aviation—we had a great time experiencing Oshkosh ’22, seeing an outstanding airshow, and making new memories. And, yes, they got me to buy too many toy airplanes from the EAA warehouse.