One of the many unique aspects of AirVenture Oshkosh is the annual migration of various aircraft groups to Oshkosh, where they land together and create their own communities along the flightline. Several group flights are in preparation mode, including the Cherokees to Oshkosh, Bonanzas to Oshkosh, Cessnas 2 Oshkosh, Mooney Caravan, and Comanches to Oshkosh.
These traditional group flights were for the most part scrubbed in 2010 when saturated convention grounds prevented aircraft from parking in places like the North 40. But while the planes were forced to find other places or airports, the people eventually met up and had what Bonanzas leader Larry Gaines called "one of the best years ever" from a camaraderie standpoint.
So this year's mass arrivals are a symbolic return to normalcy for hundreds of pilots expected to participate. Here's the latest news from each group, including scheduled arrival times and brief descriptions of what's in store for 2011. (Note: Arrival times are subject to change.)
|Cherokees framed by a rainbow at AirVenture 2009.
Cherokees to Oshkosh
Arriving 1 p.m. Friday, July 22
Last year the 50th anniversary of the Cherokee's first flight prompted organizers to sign up 50 Cherokees for the mass Oshkosh arrival, said Terry Hocking, Cherokee lead. But having to leave their planes in Waupaca - about a 45-minute drive away - did not rain on their parade.
"The fact that the unprecedented rains prevented us from flying the arrival was immaterial in the grand plan," Hocking said. "The floods that denied us access to the North 40 camping area provided us with opportunities to build friendships while in Waupaca that will endure for many years. In addition, the circumstances surrounding all of this provided us the opportunity to train together and put the best people in key positions."
"To date there are 30 aircraft registered for this year," Hocking said, calling this year's participants a "hard-core, highly energized group of EAAers that want to fly a flawless formation into AirVenture 2011."
To that end, participants have been flying at a series of mini-clinics to ensure a safe flight. On the evening of their arrival date (July 22), participants will gather for a Celebration Dinner, 5 p.m. at the EAA Nature Center tent. Hocking indicated there is still room for pilots wishing to join the flight. Click here for more information, or e-mail Terry.
|This is the 23rd year of the Bonanzas to Oshkosh flight.
Bonanzas to Oshkosh
Arriving 1 p.m. Saturday, July 23
The group that started this mass arrival business is Bonanzas to Oshkosh, or B2Osh, which celebrates its 22nd year in 2011. Lead Larry Gaines said as of this week there were 70 planes registered, but he anticipates an eventual 100-110 aircraft flying into Oshkosh Saturday from its staging airport, Rockford, Illinois (RFD).
Like the Cherokee group, B2Osh members and their families took advantage of not being able to fly into soggy Wittman to further galvanize their friendships. They had 120 aircraft set to participate from Rockford, and despite having to make alternate flight plans, 95 percent of the people registered camped together in the North 40.
"Camaraderie was at an all-time high," Gaines said. "People really pulled together and it was maybe the best event we've ever had. It just goes to show that it's the planes that get us there, but the people make the event."
Once on the ground at Oshkosh, there's plenty in story for B2Osh throughout the week. Saturday is the Margarita & Pizza Party in the North 40, then the B2Osh Raffle and party on Sunday; Monday's American Bonanza Society Indoor BBQ; and Tuesday night features an ice cream social for the kids followed by Beer2OSH 4.
Learn more about B2Osh and register here.
|A parking marshal directs an arriving Skylane during the 2009 Cessnas to Oshkosh arrival.
Cessnas to Oshkosh
Arriving 2:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23
Describing AirVenture 2010 "a memorable year, to say the least," Cessnas to Oshkosh (C2Osh) is busy planning for its sixth mass arrival this year - its fourth year in collaboration with the Cessna Pilots Association. Upon arrival from Dodge County Airport (UNU) in Juneau, participants will enjoy a larger "footprint" for Cessna Base Camp 2011, with a bigger tent in the North 40. The annual barbecue dinner takes place on Sunday night, July 24, and breakfast is served daily at the base camp.
As many as 75 aircraft are approved by the FAA for the flight and at last count 57 had registered. This means there's some room for more pilots to participate, so click here for more information. Pilots must complete training in at least one formation clinic and be present at the final briefing on the day of the arrival. There are several formation flight training clinics left before Oshkosh, so click here for dates and locations.
C2Osh is also paying forward the good deed of B2Osh, which provided them with superior information and mentorship in 2006 - C2Osh's first mass arrival. C2Osh is collaborating with the Cherokees to Oshkosh, assisting in their training.
|A string of Mooneys follow a scooter-riding volunteer in the North 40.
Arriving at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 23
This will be the 14th year for the Mooney Caravan to Oshkosh, which departs from Madison Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) on Saturday. Mooney lead Chris Shopperly reports that registrations were opened just a week ago and there are 23 pilots registered.
Last year the wet weather pretty much scrubbed the mass arrival. "Three of us launched in formation from MSN on Saturday afternoon and flew a three-ship formation up to Ripon," Shopperly said. "Two continued to Appleton and I split off and flew the Fisk arrival as I had reserved a parking space at Basler (FBO).
"So effectively, I was the only one who flew the 2010 Caravan!"
New to the Caravan this year will be a formation flight component. "Element composition will be the same as the other groups in the flight but with much tighter spacing," Shopperly explained. After the 2009 flight, a Caravan board sub-committee explored moving the flight profile toward the style flown by B2Osh, which has been very supportive of the Caravan's efforts, generously welcoming members to participate in their regional training clinics.
Besides parking and camping together in the North 40, members can enjoy the annual barbecue on Sunday night, July 24, held in their parking area. It's open to all interested parties and tickets are available on the Mooney Caravan website.
|A trio of Comanches taxi toward their group parking spots.
Comanches to Oshkosh
Arriving 11:30 a.m. Sunday, July 24
With just over two months remaining until opening day, the Comanche Society's group flight out of Watertown (RYV), Wisconsin, has 18 planes registered. There are two PA24-180s, nine PA24-250s, two PA24-260s, and four twins, which Comanche lead JJ Miller says is "just about right" for mid-May. "The bulk sign up in June as their summer schedules firm up," he said. "I expect 30-35 airplanes participating this year, with a similar distribution of models."
Miller said there were some Comanche group arrival flights in the late 1990s, but it really "took off" in 2007 when 50 aircraft assembled at Watertown to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the type - the biggest turnout to date.
Deadline to register for the flight runs through July 16 and can be done here. Any questions can be referred to Miller via e-mail.