EAA Airventure 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
On Sunday July 30th, Jenny and I made the trek up to Oshkosh to attend our first ever Airventure.
"For one week each summer, EAA members and aviation enthusiasts totaling more than 500,000 from more than 60 countries attend EAA AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where they rekindle friendships and celebrate the past, present and future in the world of flight."
Airventure is one part Air Show (aerial and static displays of aircraft, speakers), one part pilot training (seminars, workshops, introduction to learning how to fly), and one part home built/experimental aircraft (more static displays, how to build aircraft). Add in 4 hangers worth of aviation related vendors, and several acres of new aircraft for sale and you got something for everyone.
No, we did not fly in, but instead opted to drive. Why? Well, flying into Oshkosh during Airventure is not something I wanted to attempt as a new private pilot. During this week, KOSH, becomes the busiest airport in the world, handling over 10,000 aircraft. The procedure for flying into Oshkosh is detailed in a 32 page NOTAM (notice to airman).
From a July 2009 article on Wired.com, 3035 flights were handled in a single 10 hour period in 2008, which is 400 more then was handled at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport — usually the busiest in the world.
Aircraft land on one of two runways, 9-27 or 18/36. The runways have colored dots on them, and instead of landing at the beginning of the runway, aircraft are directed to land on one of the colored dots. I flew into Oshkosh twice during my private pilot training and got to see the dots. Be sure to check out the Wire article for lots of great details and pictures.
Since this was our first year, Jenny and I went with not much of an agenda, other then to gain experience for next year. After navigating the arriving traffic pattern (yes, they refer to part of the driving directions as a traffic pattern, just like they do in the air), we walked to the main gate. After purchasing our tickets, and becoming members of the EAA, we were off.
New Plane Exhibits
We started off by looking at the aircraft exhibits put on by aircraft manufactures. This included well known brands such as Cessna, Piper, Cirrus, as well as lesser known brands. The types of planes ranged from Light Sport, all the way up to business jets. There were also some gyroplanes and traditional helicopters.
|New Cessna 182||New Piper Archer III||Gyoplane|
After making our way thru the exhibits, I noticed a large crowd of people up ahead gathered around a very large 4 engine bomber. Turns out, it was Fifi, the only airworthy B-29.
|The B-29 Fifi||This plane is huge||Remote control gun turrets|
Naval Aviation and War birds
After being amazed by Fifi, we continued onto the rest of the Naval Aviation and War birds displays. One thing that I kept thinking as I was walking around, was wow, these planes are really big. Everything is bigger, from the Corsair to the F-18, to the Avenger and the P-51s. It was great to be able to get up to the point that you can reach out and touch the airplanes, but you don’t (it’s not allowed).
|F-18||Arrester hook||CH-53 Super Stallion|
|Avenger||Avenger Side||Mk III Torpedo in Avenger|
|E2 Hawkeye||E2 Propeller||Target Drone|
|Row of P-51s||P-51 – Big Beautiful Doll||P-51|
After a short stop to grab something cold to drink, we made our way over to the EAA Museum to hear a presentation. We never did find the presentation we were looking for, and it turns out that some of the venues have the same name, but have an number appended to them.
We did get to a chance to hear the end of Bud Anderson’s presentation. Bud is a a WWII P-51 fighter pilot talk, and the inspiration for the History Channel Series Dog Fights. We hung around for the first part of Chuck Yeager’s presentation, but decided to head back to the field to pick up some lunch. We will return sometime later in the year to fully explore the museum (and this time I’ll fly us there).
The first Airshow
We were able to find some space in the shade provided by the Honda Jet display for the first air show. The show started off with a tribute to naval aviation. They had pyrotechnics setup on the field to simulate bombing and strafing runs. Just prior to this, they had a WWII era fighter flying in formation with an F-18.
|Past and Present Fighters||Setting up for their bombing run||Boom!|
Then the traditional skydive act with the American flag came next, followed by an awesome display of Aerobatics. Unfortunately we only got to see a couple of minutes of the aerobatics, because some severe weather moved in and they were forced to cancel the show. The pilot of the aerobatic plane had a bit of fun in the high winds, pointing the nose up in the air, he was able to hold himself in place for a good minute.
|Aerobatics||Pilot having some fun|
Inspiration for a future project
After the weather passed, we waited around the airfield to see if the airshow would resume, which it didn’t. Walking around the homebuilt parking, I saw all these canard style aircraft and started looking up information on my phone trying to figure out what they were. They looked like some of the aircraft that Burt Rutan designed, so I looked it up and sure enough, these were homebuilt VariEze aircraft.
Upon closer examination, I realized that there were several variations including the number of seats (1, 2, 4), fixed or retractable gear, and size. One of the larger ones I saw had the name velocity on the parking tag and from that I discovered Velocity Aircraft.
So why build this type of airplane? Because it’s eye catching, and I also learned upon further research that it’s a fast and efficient aeronautical design. What sealed it for me, was that a few weeks ago, I was looking at a company called Delta Hawk who is starting to make diesel aircraft engines. I thought to myself at the time, that if I were going to build a plane, going with a diesel engine would be something I would seriously consider due to the advantages it offers (runs on cheaper Jet-A fuel and burns less fuel being some of them).
I went back to the Delta Hawk website today and saw that their test plane is a Velocity, and that they are also based right here in Wisconsin, Racine to be exact. It just seems like an omen to me. Now I just need 1000 hours of free time and $50,000 and I can start building it. That $50,000 doesn’t include the engine or avionics, but does include some fast build options to cut down on construction time.
We had some more time to kill before the evening airshow, so we wandered over to the Vintage aircraft section. We got to see a Stearman start-up and taxi away for take-off. We also saw some vintage Cessnas (I wish our club Cessna looked as nice) and planes used for US Air Mail.
I was able to grab a pretty neat picture as the sun was going down behind the control tower. The Farmers Insurance blimp was just making it’s way from the far side of the airport around to the runway for a demonstration.
The evening airshow can not be described in words alone, nor in the pictures that I was able to take. To truly appreciate it, you need to see it in person. Even with high quality cameras, it would still be difficult to give the air show and performers enough credit. I had my portable radio with, so I was able to tune in the Air Boss frequency and keep tabs on what was going on which was cool for the pilot geek in me. The airshow included the Aeroshell acrobatic team, several other solo acts, and probably the best fireworks display I have ever seen.
Next year I think we’ll try to get up for two days, probably Friday and Saturday so we can catch the evening airshow again. Seems like the best plan is to hit up the vendors and workshops in the morning and afternoon, and then check out the planes and static displays after dinner.