Overflowing aircraft campgrounds, a filled-to-capacity Camp Scholler, even filled-beyond-belief car parking lots— they all add up to what EAA President and Chairman Tom Poberezny said was “a convention that will go down in the record books as one of the best ever.” “It’s hard to put into words,” he admitted. “In every category—aircraft, camping, attendance, you name it—everything exceeded expectations."
What did this mean for mission aviation? Hundreds of thousands of people were in some way exposed to the use of airplanes for God.
Many people went through the International Association of Missionary Aviation (IAMA) tent, a modern tabernacle containing at least 32 mission organizations of various sizes and purposes. Yet all the organizations represented there, in some way, ultimately use aircraft to send the Gospel of Christ near and far. Still thousands more people visited the "FLY4LIFE" tents on Aeroshell square at the center of the display area. These tents housed a mixture of mission organizations and aircraft designed to tell the story about where mission aviation began, what it's doing today, and where it's headed tomorrow.
And even beyond all this, you could hardly go anywhere on the massive grounds and not bump into something related to mission aviation...the float plane base had a mission aircraft there; the vintage aircraft section held the world's oldest known, continuously flying, aircraft used for mission aviation; and the Lord worked it out so the MFI DC3 ended up parked in the ultra-light section (talk about standing out in a crowd)!Every day a public forum on various topics was lead by someone in ministry and in the evenings interviews were conducted with people like Steve Saint and others having a long legacy of reaching the lost through the use of airplanes.
There were more than four hundred missionaries there that the Lord used to glorify Himself in the realm of aviation. We were "cared for" (3 meals a day, transportation and Housing for 400+!) by a unique mission organization called "Mission Aviation Support Association" or MASA. I can tell you I would not have been able to attend this amazing event without them. For years they have been making it possible for mission people to come to AirVenture by organizing help from more than 60 churches in the area and countless individuals. This organization is a model for what is possible if we all focus on Christ as our common goal.
So what does all this mean? When I was asked to write a paragraph describing "my impression of Oshkosh" I didn't think that task was going to be difficult. Now a full page later I must confess...I can't begin to describe it. This doesn't even contain the countless personal stories of God's miracles we heard each day as we ate and worked and played together. The Oshkosh experience for me was a Blessing I can't yet comprehend...Hope to see you there next year.
(Scott Grote is part of the MMS training staff and serves in the role of Production Mechanic.)