50 Years of Fly-Ins

50 Years of Fly-Ins

Scott Christiansen has been flying to EAA fly-ins since Rockford days

Scott Christiansen, EAA 43627, hasn’t missed an EAA fly-in convention since he was 18 years old, 50 years ago. He’s flown into the convention each year since, and by Scott’s own estimate, a maximum of three of those flights were in certified airplanes.

Scott, who prefers classic and experimental aircraft, is certainly a living, breathing example of the experimental part of the EAA spirit. Scott has built two airplanes, a Piel Beryl and an Explorer Ellipse, and took one of the two to Oshkosh for roughly 40 of the 50 years he’s attended.

From 1980 until 2010, Scott’s Beryl got him to Oshkosh, which became EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 1998. Since 2010, he’s brought the four-seat Ellipse, a Dean Wilson-designed kitbuilt. This year, there was some concern Scott would have to miss his first Oshkosh in five decades, as his cancer treatments left Scott concerned he might not pass a class three medical exam.

“When you look at the checklist of the BasicMed, there’s nothing on there that talks about anything that you’ve had in the past,” he said. “You just have to be healthy when you’re going through the physical exam. Then, from that point forward, it’s up to me to know that I’m safe to go flying. I think that’s the way it should be.”

Scott had arranged a ride for himself just in case he couldn’t get certified soon enough to fly in, but found out just a few weeks before AirVenture 2017 that those plans fell through. If Scott hadn’t gotten his BasicMed sorted out a week and a half prior to AirVenture — on July 14 — his consecutive attendance streak would have ended at year 49.

Last year could have been Scott’s 50th convention, though. A good friend invited him to go in 1967, but Scott, not knowing much about the fly-in at the time, couldn’t figure out why he should attend.

“It could have been 51,” Scott said. “I had no clue what Rockford was all about. He brought back pictures and said, ‘This is what you missed,’ and I said, ‘Wow, maybe I should’ve gone after all.’”

Although he isn’t always a huge air show fan, Scott said some of the military flight teams that have graced AirVenture in recent years, including the Blue Angels, who will appear in the air show tonight, draw him in.

“I’m not one to always watch the afternoon air show, but the Thunderbirds were, and the Blue Angels will be, a must-see,” he said.

The air show might be one of the most publicized parts of AirVenture, but Scott is a good reminder that it’s not all that goes on in Oshkosh. Even though he may not spend much time out on the flightline, the vendors keep him coming back year after year, even before he worked at the FAA, a job he’s since retired from.

“I think that all the years that I’ve come to Oshkosh, it’s always been to get familiar with new technology, new equipment that’s available, stuff that would help with my FAA position as a maintenance inspector,” Scott said.

In addition to this being Scott’s 50th convention milestone, the 25-year anniversary of the Young Eagles program ties him to EAA, too. Scott has flown more than 50 Young Eagles since he began working with the program.

He can’t give you an exact number, because he doesn’t know it himself. Scott only knows that it’s more than 50 because he got a letter from EAA headquarters once he hit that mark. His Young Eagles connection goes back before the 25th anniversary the Young Eagles program reached at this year.

“You could probably say I was a Young Eagle at one time before the Young Eagles got started,” Scott said. “I went for a ride with my best friend when he was taking a flight instruction. I sat in the back seat of a 172, and they went up and did stalls and deep turns and stuff like that. After that, I started my flying lessons when I was 17 years old.”

One year later, Scott started attending EAA fly-in conventions, all the way until this year’s show. His beautiful green-and-white Ellipse’s spot in Homebuilt camping sits as testament to the dedication Scott has to Oshkosh each ye

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Ti, EAA 1257220, is a staff writer at EAA who enjoys learning more about various types of aircraft. Outside of aviation, he can often be found watching, writing, and podcasting about the NBA. E-mail Ti at twindisch@eaa.org.