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Full EAA Air­ven­ture re­port as Oshkosh de­lights the crowds again

Voted by USA To­day read­ers as the best air­show in Amer­ica, July’s EAA Air­ven­ture at Oshkosh also scored highly with the many Brits and other at­ten­dees from eighty coun­tries around the world. The show’s clos­ing re­marks by EAA CEO Jack Pel­ton summed up the amaz­ing eight days and were clearly un­der­lined by the in­cred­i­ble statis­tics that he cited. Ap­prox­i­mately 563,000 peo­ple at­tended Air­ven­ture and over the show pe­riod there were roughly 14,300 air­craft move­ments at Wittman Re­gional Air­port, con­tin­u­ing the claim that it is ‘the busiest air­port in the world’. It is es­ti­mated that some 10,000 air­craft ar­rived at Wittman and other air­ports in east-cen­tral Wis­con­sin dur­ing the week. With a to­tal of 2,855 show­planes (up 7% on 2015), the home­built park­ing area was over­flow­ing with 1,124 air­craft (11% in­crease), the war­birds area was flush with fight­ers and bombers, train­ers and trans­ports, see­ing a 6% in­crease to 371 air­craft, and the vin­tage ar­eas hosted scores of beau­ti­ful aero­planes from tiny sin­gle-seaters to clas­sic air­lin­ers, with a 7% in­crease to 1,032 air­craft. There were 41 ded­i­cated aer­o­batic air­craft, 135 ul­tra­lights and light-sport air­craft, 101 sea­planes, 31 ro­tor­craft and 20 un­clas­si­fied air­craft. In ad­di­tion there was sig­nif­i­cant par­tic­i­pa­tion from the USAF, US Navy and Ma­rine Corps, the Cana­dian Forces with its Snow­birds team and air­lin­ers from Air­bus, Boe­ing and Em­braer.

Al­though the Oshkosh fly­ing dis­plays had an ex­cess of solo aer­o­batic per­for­mances, they also in­cluded three or four dif­fer­ent out­stand­ing items each day, in­clud­ing a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 75th an­niver­sary of the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, the 25th of Desert Storm, and a look back at the fight­ers of WWI. The cen­te­nar­ies of Boe­ing and US Coast Guard avi­a­tion, along with the 80th birth­day of the Spar­tan Ex­ec­u­tive, 75th of the In­ter­state Cadet, 70th for Ryan Navions, Globe/temco Swifts, Cessna 120/140s and DHC Chip­munks, the 40th year of the F-16 Fight­ing Fal­con and the 30th for the pop­u­lar Vans RV-6, were all marked. On the ground the statis­tics were no less im­pres­sive. More than 75,000 of the vis­i­tors at­tended 1,050 fo­rums and work­shop ses­sions, and they also kept the 891 (up 10% on 2015) com­mer­cial ex­hibitors busy all week. Jack Pel­ton con­cluded with this com­ment: “It’s not un­com­mon for gen­eral avi­a­tion camp­ing in the North 40 and South 40 to fill up at some point dur­ing the week, at least for brief pe­ri­ods, but this year it hap­pened be­fore 9 a.m. on the open­ing day! To put it sim­ply, this was one amaz­ing year.”

It is im­pos­si­ble re­ally to do jus­tice here to the huge va­ri­ety of air­craft at Air Ven­ture 2016. We have made our own selec­tion, rang­ing from the mighty Martin Mars to the diminu­tive Davis D-1K, to in­clude award win­ners, first ap­pear­ances, in­cred­i­ble paint schemes, war­birds, spec­tac­u­lar dis­plays and no­table air­craft that caught our at­ten­tion. Oshkosh is like no other air event any­where in the world. It is sim­ply the great­est! Will you be at EAA Air­ven­ture Oshkosh on 24-30 July 2017?

The top award — An­tique Grand Champion and Gold Lindy win­ner this year was Ted Teach’s gleam­ing 1936 Ryan STA N14985. John Machamer, who took 22 years to re­build the 1930 Davis D-1K N158Y at Get­tys­burg, PA re­ceived the Sil­ver Age (1928-1936) Champion award. There were an un­prece­dented eight Spar­tan 7W Ex­ec­u­tives gath­ered at Oshkosh to cel­e­brate the type’s 80th an­niver­sary. Thomas Hart­ness re­ceived the Bronze Age Champion award for his 1937 built Spar­tan 7W N13PH.

1929 Bel­lanca CH-300 Pace­maker N688E, newly flown in mid-july af­ter a two-year restora­tion by John Pike and his team at Big Sky Stear­man in Ore­gon City, Ore­gon, re­ceived the Sil­ver Age Out­stand­ing Closed Cock­pit Mono­plane award. Warren Wright of Nor­man Wells, NWT, Canada — who now owns the plane — plans to put it into bush ser­vice op­er­at­ing on floats near the Arc­tic Cir­cle in sum­mer and on a pair of orig­i­nal 1929 wooden skis in the win­ter.

This year’s Grand Champion WWII war­bird was judged to be Tri-state War­bird Mu­seum’s P-40M Kit­ty­hawk III N5813/NZ3119. This former RNZAF P-40 was re­built at Auck­land be­tween 2002 and 2007. Pur­chased by David O’maley, it was shipped to Cincin­nati, OH in 2008.

Jon Blanchette from Fair­port, NY re­ceived the Best Jet award for his MIG-17PF ‘Fresco’ N620PF. This Pol­ish-built Lim-5p was re­tired by the Pol­ish AF and first ar­rived in the USA in 1995. The judges also se­lected Aero L-39C N580LL for an award, against strong com­pe­ti­tion from other L-39s, Sabres, SIAI S.211s, T-33s, a T-2B Buck­eye, A-4C Sky­hawk and an Alpha Jet.

The tro­phy for the Best Fighter went to Pa­cific Fight­ers at Idaho Falls, ID for Rod Lewis’s colour­ful P-47D Thun­der­bolt N767WJ Balls Out. Two awards (Phoenix and Re­serve Grand Champion) were given to James Harker from Blaine, MN for his mag­nif­i­cent Stin­son L-1F Vig­i­lant N1377B, newly re­built by Amer­i­can Aero Ser­vices at New Smyrna Beach, FL. This is only the sec­ond Vig­i­lant cur­rently air­wor­thy in the US.

Fi­nally, the ‘Spirit of Oshkosh’ award went ap­pro­pri­ately enough to the EAA’S unique North Amer­i­can P-64 N840. Ac­quired by Paul Poberezny the EAA’S founder in 1964, it was the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s first war­bird and had been on dis­play in the EAA Mu­seum for the past 28 years. The P-64, a more pow­er­ful, clipped wing fighter version of the T-6, was sold to Siam (to­day’s Thai­land) in 1941. It was seized while en route af­ter the Japanese in­vaded Siam and was at Pearl Har­bor on 7 De­cem­ber 1941. N840 was re­stored to fly­ing condition at Oshkosh where it had its first flight on 17 June 2016 and was flown in the 75th an­niver­sary of Pearl Har­bor on the Fri­day of Air­ven­ture.

Steal­ing the show, the mighty Martin Mars

Spar­tan 7W owned by Thomas Hart­ness Tri-state War­bird Mu­seum’s P-40M 1929 Bel­lanca CH-300 Pace­maker Jon Blanchette’s MIG-17PF ‘Fresco’

John Machamer’s Davis D-1K

Ted Teach’s Ryan STA

Stin­son L-1F

North Amer­i­can P-64, fighter ver­sion of the T-6

P-47D Thun­der­bolt Balls Out

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