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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.

  

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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh


Volume 9, Number 5 July 31, 2008     

Young Eagle, former director fly into Oshkosh in JetBlue E190
By Barbara A. Schmitz

Graduate Young Eagle Carl Gustafson (left) and Capt. Ed Lachendro brought the Jet Blue EMB-190 to EAA AirVenture 2008 Wednesday for a daylong visit with the young First Officer handling the landing chores on Runway 36. Photo by Dave Higdon

Jet Blue's Embraer EMB-190 nears touchdown on Runway 36 Wednesday morning with a load of day visitors to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Photo by Dave Higdon

EAA President and AirVenture chairman Tom Poberezny greets the Jet Blue family members as they touch down on AeroShell Square Wednesday morning for a daylong visit to EAA AirVenture 2008. Photo by Dave Higdon

Not much can beat flying into Oshkosh in a JetBlue Embraer E190.

Just ask Ed Lachendro and Carl Gustafson who flew in from JFK International Airport with about 80 JetBlue officials and employees Wednesday morning. The plane was displayed on AeroShell Square throughout the day, before leaving about 6 p.m.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Gustafson, who is a first officer with JetBlue, a regular EAA AirVenture visitor and a former Young Eagle. “As a little kid I watched others fly into Oshkosh in big jets, so it’s such an honor to do this…”

Lachendro, a captain with JetBlue, agreed. “The feeling is indescribable. It’s off-the-charts fun. This ranks up with the first time I came in with my dad in the Aeronca Champ.”

Lachendro had actually already been in Oshkosh, but took off for New York so he could fly the plane here. He is spending the rest of his week at AirVenture with his family, while Gustafson was staying the night but then had to leave this morning to get back to work.

An original director of EAA’s Young Eagles program, Lachendro said Gustafson is a good example how an introductory flight to a child can turn into a career in aviation as an adult. Take that introductory flight and multiply it by the 1.4 million kids who have received a Young Eagles flight, and you can see how big the impact can be, he said.

Gustafson was hired at JetBlue in December 2007 and had the idea to fly into Oshkosh in January. He e-mailed EAA President Tom Poberezny and JetBlue’s marketing department, but he didn’t hear back immediately. Meanwhile, Lachendro had the same idea a couple months later, and the plan to fly into Oshkosh became a reality.

It was the first time the two flew together.

Lachendro starting flying in 1974. In 1985 he became a commercial pilot, and he now has about 14,500 flight hours. He has been working for JetBlue for four years and said people will be impressed when they take a tour of the plane.

JetBlue’s E190s are configured with 100 leather seats in a two-by-two layout. That means all customers have either an aisle or a window seat. In addition, each seat is equipped with a small TV that offers 36 channels of live TV. “It’s really the best bargain for your buck in travel today,” Lachendro said.

Gustafson said he grew up going to air shows with his father, David of Bellingham, Washington. “It’s really what gave me my passion for aviation. I’ve known that I was going to fly since I was 6 years old.”

But a Young Eagles flight was like the “icing on the cake,” he said. Of course, it didn’t hurt that his Young Eagles flight occurred during AirVenture 1993 in a fighter jet TS-11 flown by James Rossi.

Gustafson went on to solo at 16 in a 1945 Aeronca Champ, get his pilot certificate at 17, and build his hours and ratings. At 21 he was hired by American Eagle, but was furloughed six months later because of September 11. He worked for another airline that went out of business, and he was flying 737s for a charter operator when he was hired by JetBlue. He now has about 6,500 hours and said he enjoys working for JetBlue.

Gustafson said since he was born, he’s only missed two conventions. That means he’s made 26 of them.

What does he look forward to doing this year?

“The new things I didn’t see last year,” he said. “Plus my dad wants to show me some things.”

His favorite Oshkosh memory?

“Flying into Oshkosh today is probably No. 1. If you’re going to arrive in Oshkosh, it’s nice to do it in something big.”

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