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.
Warbird Alley at AirVenture 2010 accommodates more people, more
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