|An M-Squared ultralight up on a pleasant morning during AirVenture. Photo by Stefan Seville
|On the way to the dock at the Seaplane Base.
|Rutan’s Catbird was recently restored and graced the showplane area once again. Photo by Stefan Seville
It started sunny, turned slightly soggy and finished with a sunny wrap. AirVenture 2011. The contrasts with 2010 could hardly be stronger, the week as strong and fun and far-flung with aircraft as ever in the 58 years since the founding of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Individuals can discuss what their highpoints were for weeks to come—and the week delivered dozens of memorable moments.
The Centennial of Naval Aviation served as one of the more-enduring focal points for a week loaded with other notable milestones:
- A century since the first airmail delivery;
- The lifetime design accomplishments of Burt Rutan;
- The appearance—arguably too brief—of Boeing’s breakthrough composite airliner, the 787 Dreamliner;
- Music galore, starting with a rockin’-and-rollin’ opening-day concert by REO Speedwagon, the Red, White & Loud Tour appearance of Aaron Tippin, and the memorable Theater in the Woods concert Friday evening by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band;
- And planned amazing Saturday evening of pyrotechnically enhanced night aerobatics to cap a week of extraordinary aerial performances;
- A welcome appearance by FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, who came to AirVenture in part to make a statement about the importance of interaction between the agency and its main customers—pilots;
- An unexpectedly strong surge of commerce for many of the hundreds of vendors who choose AirVenture to highlight their products, amid scores of innovations announced throughout the week;
- And the extraordinary passion of everyday people for all things that fly, as seen from corner to corner, end-to-end on the AirVenture grounds.
From The Farm to Warbirds—and everything in between
The highpoints for individuals are something each of us takes away every year to argue and discuss, but there’s never an Oshkosh that lacks the power to impress.
The ultralight devotees breathed new life into their section of AirVenture affectionately known as “The Farm,” continuing a lengthy tradition of light flight pioneered here by John Moody 35 years ago this week.
A new aerobat emerged from the LSA area and roadable aircraft—aka flying cars—saw a newly approved model here, the first since 1957.
Arguably, AirVenture 2011 brought together the largest single collection of naval aircraft any single event has ever seen. From the replica of the Navy’s original N-1 Curtiss Pusher to today’s powerful-beyond-imagination Boeing F/A-18 combat jets, AirVenture 2011, well, covered the waterfront.
Certificated aircraft continue to gather at AirVenture—confusing some who think EAA is only about and for the homebuilt movement—and sell their wares to willing pilots, some of which received flight training as part of their purchase package.
And among gadgets and goodies, no area generated more activity and garnered more interest than the avionics segment, with multiple new, noteworthy advances unveiled here this week. (See Mac McClellan’s adjacent sidebar.)
Coming soon…or, 51 weeks from now…
As we begin to motor homeward in whatever conveyances brought us here we hear the refrain again and again, “See you next year!” And, in fact, work on the 2012 edition of AirVenture is already well under way.
Come July 23 next, Wittman Regional Airport should again look like aviation’s perennial capital-for-a-week with the return of the GA fleet for seven days ending on the 29th.
We’ll be watching for you.