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Enhanced Warbirds area draws crowd
Story and photo by Frederick A. Johnson
 

New Scott’s Warbird Alley at AirVenture 2010 accommodates more people, more aircraft.

AirVenture 2010’s Salute to Veterans is a gratifying success in the Warbirds area. The newly-dedicated concrete ramp hosted multiple warbirds, including aircraft scheduled for the popular Warbirds in Review talks. The ramp is a vector bringing a constant stream of visitors into the sprawling Warbirds complex.

Indicators of success include an increase in fly-in warbird registrations over last year, with 374 tallied as of Saturday compared with 355 in 2009. Not even the soggy ground earlier this week could keep warbird operators from making the effort.

And the free caps for all veterans attending this year have been a popular indicator. Frank Johnston and his wife Jan came from Atlanta to volunteer, giving caps to veterans, and Frank estimates more than 10,000 caps will be worn by vets as of today. Frank says the EAA does not ask for verification of veteran status, but vets are proud to furnish proof. “They want to tell you who they are,” he added. In addition to thousands of American veterans, Johnston said caps have been given to veterans from foreign countries including Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and even the former East Germany.

Warbirds of America executive director Bill Fischer called this year “simply amazing.” The response to standing water early in the week surmounted the problem with everything from pumps to positive thinking. “I tip my hat to the volunteers,” and to the EAA maintenance staff, Fischer said.

Fischer said he was impressed with the herculean efforts of some warbird owners and pilots who went all-out to finish new restorations in time to show their beauties at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010. The reborn Seafire of Dr. Wes Stricker first flew on July 1 and has only 10 hours on its rebuilt airframe, with AirVenture as its public debut. It won honors as Best Fighter at AirVenture this year. Fischer said Idaho’s John Lane at Airpower Unlimited burned the midnight oil to finish John O’Connor’s FG-1D Corsair restoration, only to have last-minute weather problems slow its journey to Oshkosh. The authentically camouflaged Corsair made it to AirVenture just in time to be judged World War II Grand Champion.

The ever-popular P-51 Mustang parking area is dotted with some new restorations this year, Fischer observed. Among them are recreations of the P-51Ds nicknamed Live Bait and Lou IV.

The warbird community continues to deal with important issues affecting the aircraft they love to fly. Fischer says some owners are working with the FAA on the drafting of an FAA advisory regarding inspections of older airframes—not just warbirds. Meanwhile, modern computer-aided mechanical technologies make it practical to produce replacement warbird parts, including whole sections of airframes that meet or exceed original specifications.

The pervasive can-do attitude of warbird operators is good news for the stewardship of these iconic and popular aircraft.

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