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
North American P-64, fighter version of the T-6
P-47D Thunderbolt Balls Out