Story by Abigail Oleniczak
Photos by Kevin Oleniczak
With winds picking up to 90 mph gusts and pilots tightening airplane straps in the stillness of the airport, campers at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 sought shelter at the EAA AirVenture Museum Wednesday night.
At about 10 p.m., EAA security announced over the PA system that the museum was open for those who wanted to seek shelter, with buses running from Camp Scholler to the museum.
For about an hour, hundreds of campers flooded in, carrying blankets and pillows, as they exited the buses. As soon as each group stepped foot into the bustling museum, EAA’s Director of Museum and Education Ron Connolly briefed the guests, explaining the safety plan and reassuring people this was the safest place to be.
Campers were told the museum was open to walk through, or that they could find a place to sleep or watch the Olympics, which was playing in both theaters.
At about 11:15 p.m., tornado sirens went off and campers were told over the museum intercom to move to the basement level of the museum as a precaution. Families were sleeping and playing games. Some had their pet dogs with them, and most importantly, everyone felt safe.
Police and security were on alert and there to comfort campers. Around 1 a.m., most campers left the museum on the buses back to their campsites.
Greg Adaire, his wife, Kristen, and their daughter, Amelia, were some of the grateful campers who appreciated EAA’s staff and action plan in this emergency. “They opened the museum, which was fantastic,” Greg said.
Before the weather escalated, the family carried on with their evening making dinner and charging electronics at the bathroom, and then staked their tent down after looking at the radar. Thankfully, there was room at their campsite for the family to move their tent so they could avoid the muddy wet spot they were in.
As soon as they heard the announcement in the campground that the museum was open for campers wanting shelter, the family acted. Greg said: “It’s great it was open. In the lower level (of the museum), you didn’t even know it was storming!”