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Oshkosh today, around the world tomorrow
Story and photo by James Wynbrandt

Fernando Perez-Canto with the Maule he’s flown to AirVenture from Venezuela the last two years.

It’s not unusual for pilots to make back-to-back journeys to AirVenture. Fernando Perez-Canto has just traveled a little farther. This marks the second year in a row the Caracas-based commercial helicopter pilot has flown his Maule MXT-7-180A from Venezuela to Oshkosh for the fly-in.

“The environment is magic,” Perez-Canto says of the spirit that drew him back to Wittman Regional Airport. “This is the Woodstock for our hobby.”

Perez-Canto first heard about AirVenture during a visit to Florida’s Sun ’n Fun fly-in.

“People down there told me that AirVenture is the epitome of flying conventions,” he said.

So in 2004 he flew here commercially. The event made “an excellent impression,” and he vowed to return, but not necessarily via the airlines.

In 2008 Perez-Canto bought his Maule, a single-engine STOL aircraft, from the factory in Moultrie, Georgia, becoming good friends with the Maule family in the process. Last year he flew himself to AirVenture for “the fun of it, the adventure.” He covered the route—Caracas to the Dominican Republic, to Great Exuma in the Bahamas, to Fort Lauderdale, to Chattanooga, to Oshkosh—in about 23 flight hours over three days, and plunged right into his typical AirVenture routine.

“I see the new planes, new equipment, new products, always enjoying the afternoon the air shows, and meet new people.”

Unfortunately, Perez-Canto will not be a three-peater, but he has a good excuse not to be at AirVenture 2011. Next June he plans to take off on a flight around the world, a project he’s undertaking to raise money for the Amigos Del Nino Con Cancer (Friends of Children with Cancer) foundation in Venezuela. Flying under the banner, “Un amigo por el mundo,” (A friend for the world), the planned 70-day, 36,000 nm journey will take him through 40 countries, and across 18 seas and two oceans. But first comes the bittersweet return flight from AirVenture to Venezuela.
“Every time I leave here for my country, I always go with much loving for flying,” he said.

Look for Perez-Canto to renew that love affair with Oshkosh in 2012.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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