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Volume 14,Issue 3 Autumn 2012

2010 EAA AirVenture


It was a beautiful Monday morning, the sun was shining, the fields were a vivid green, and the sound of airplanes roared through the sky. It was Monday, July 26th, opening day for the 2010 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh Wisconsin. We had just arrived in Wisconsin just a day after the summer rains had come through, but that did not seem to ruin the spirits of those who had traveled from all across the country and decided to camp out on the lush green fields of the airport. Before we had even parked our car, I saw my first truly memorable sight. As we drove into the airport, one can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sight of a sea of tents pitched on the fields on the outskirts of the airport. I was then informed that as the week progresses, the sea of tents would continue to grow as more and more people continued to arrive. That was the first indication that this event was going to be quite epic.

As I stared out into the sea of tents trying to estimate the amount of campers in that single lot, the loud roar of a jet engine cuts through the conversations occurring in our car, and quickly all of our attention was focused up at the sky, just in time to witness U.S. military aircraft taking off from the runway and flying directly overhead in pairs. The event had officially started and aircraft would be taking off and landing at this airport all day long, all week long.

During the week of the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, the city of Oshkosh is transformed from a quiet suburban sprawl with a population of less than 70,000 people, to the busiest airport in the world with over 10,000 aircraft arriving into the Wittman Regional Airport and the other nearby airports in East-Central Wisconsin. The event this year had an attendance of over 500,000 people, with visitors from over 66 different countries, and over 900 media representatives from 6 continents. Just walking into the airport and seeing the rows and rows of general aviation aircraft lined up on the field was a sight to behold.

As I walked through around the event, I could not help but stop and stare at some of the most unique things I have seen in a long, long time.

The first thing that really caught my attention, as well as the attention of the other attendees as this booth was constantly bombarded with eyes the whole time, was the experimental flying car by TERRAFUGIA. This was a half car, half airplane hybrid machine that was capable of being driven on the U.S. Highways, and when the need arise, it can expand its foldable wings out, and take flight into the sky. While this is not something that is likely to be mass manufactured and sold at a price that the average person could afford anytime soon, it does give one a slight glimpse into the possibilities of the future. The second thing that caught my attention was actually at a booth just a few stalls down from flying car. It was a flying go-kart. A steel frame Go-kart with a huge fan attached to the back and a parachute attached to the top, made this thing stand out else that was there being exhibited, it was getting close to lunch time and we were all getting quite hungry.

In typical American fair tradition, the airport had multiple food services tents stationed throughout the venue. We picked the closest tent to the Light Sport Aircraft Mall and sat down to lunch. The food at the venue was surprisingly good and the selections were vast. Each tent had a distinct menu that differentiated each other and that made sure that the attendees were not going to be stuck eating the same thing all week long.

Once our lunch was over, I took off to explore more of the venue and see all the sights that the EAA AirVenture had to offer. With 777 commercial exhibitors at this year’s event, it was impossible to see and visit each and every booth, so I decided to spend the first day checking out a few familiar names. I visited the Piper and Cessna booths, as well as spent some time at the fancy new ICON booth watching the other attendees test their skills at the flight simulation machines in the booth. At 3pm, the sky began to truly buzz and come alive with the sound of airplanes roaring through the sky. The afternoon air show had begun and while all day long planes had been flying in and out of the Wittman Regional Airport, it wasn’t until the now when the sky finally took center stage.

Pilots took to the sky and performed such amazing feats of aerial acrobatics. The planes would fly high up into the sky and perform all sorts of loops and corkscrews all while dragging behind them long fluffy contrails. The planes would soar through the sky and then swoop back down towards the runway to perform a beautiful buzz by for the audiences’ enjoyment. It was easily the best air show I had ever seen in my life. The way these pilots were able to make their planes dance through the sky was a true thing of beauty, and the grace and elegance of these flying machines were truly stunning as they buzzed down low and flew by. One of the highlights of the air show was when four red and white Aeroshell planes all took to the sky at the same time and performed a synchronized air routine. The level of control and grace those pilots had over their planes was quite amazing to watch. The opening day air show also included the arrival of formation groups, including T-6s, T-34s, T-28s, and Yak-52s as well as CJ-6. As watching all these planes arriving in perfect formation was as if I was witnessing a flock of birds migrating by.

After the air show ended, one of the sponsors of the event, Ford Motor Company, used this occasion to unveil its new 2011 Ford Explorer to all the attendees of the 2010 EAA AirVenture. After the unveiling of the new Ford Explorer, it was time for pop/rock n roll group Chicago to take the stage. Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful U.S. pop/rock and roll groups and the crowd was very excited to see them perform. The concert kicked off with a bang as they began playing some of their classic hits. We left after they performed a few songs since we were all really tired and exhausted after a long opening day. The second day at the 2010 EAA AirVenture started off with a visit to the Build A Plane booth to speak with Mr. Lyn Freeman. The Build A Plane project was the brainchild of Mr. Freeman, and was a non-profit organization that partners up with local high-schools throughout the U.S. and finds and brings old and decommissioned airplanes to the school for the students to rebuild. This year, at the 2010 EAA AirVenture, a group of high school kids from Alaska who had participated in the Build A Plane project were in attendance at the event, and we would get the chance to meet with them later on in the day.

After lunch on the second day, we finally got a chance to meet with the kids from Alaska who had actually built one of the planes here on exhibit at the Build A Plane booth. It was quite the adventure for those students who live closer to Russia than they do to the nearest major U.S. City. It was such a major surprise for me when I found out that before they had taken off for this trip, one of the students had never seen a tree before. As the events of this week was an eye opener for me on the wide world of aviation and experimental aircrafts, the past few weeks must have been an eye opener on the world for these students. After meeting with the students from Alaska and picking their brains about the entire Build A Plane experience, I was off once again to wonder around the event and to check out more exhibitioners booths and to speak with those who had flown their own personal planes into the event. Our stay at event on the second day was cut short so we could drive some friends and business associates off to an airport in a nearby city. This was no problem to any of us as we still had two more days left to enjoy the sights and sounds of the 2010 EAA AirVenture.

On the third day, there was a press conference given by the President of LAMA (Light Aircraft Manufactures Association) Dan Johnson. While many things were brought to light during this briefing, there was one piece of information that was being teased. The details of a joint venture between American company IndUS Aviation, along with Chinese IT company IPI Technologies and the City of Weinan, were still being kept relatively under wraps as they had their own press conference to announce all the details the following day.

After the press conference, and after our lunch, and after a quick photo shoot, I was once again free to wonder about the event. By this point, I began to become more and more curious as to why all these people were so fascinated with aviation and flying. So I took this opportunity to approach some of the people who had flown their own airplanes into the event and ask them "why?". As I walked across the grass field weaving my way through the sea of parked planes, I began some short conversations with some of the attendees of the event. As I interviewed the attendees, I met a member of EAA Chapter 461, who introduced me to Arnold Zimmerman. Arnie, as he was lovingly referred to by his chapter mates, was recently inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame and has also received the Phillips 66 Humanitarian Award in 2006 and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for being accidentfree throughout his 50 years of flying in 2005. As I spoke with Arnie and his chapter mates, I quickly saw a pattern in the conversation. They had all been in love with airplanes ever since they were children. What had started off as a hobby of building model planes as children for most of them, would grow to become a passion for these people in their adulthood. Around 3 O’clock in the afternoon, the air show began once again and by this time, everyone’s attention had begun to focus more on what’s happening on the runway. The show this afternoon was all a part of the theme of this year’s AirVenture, "A Salute to Veterans", and the afternoon show had everything from Military planes, to a simulated rescue operation, with simulation bomb drops and the big show stopper was the simulated napalm run. Having never seen military combat myself, the simulated bomb drops and napalm run were incredible sights to see. As the air show continued on, I had to make a retreat to the tents as by this point of my trip, my allergies were making it difficult to enjoy the festivities around me.

The fourth day, and our last day here at the event, was the most important day. The day started off with everyone much more anxious and energetic than any of the previous days at the event. The reason was that around noon, was to be the big press conference to announce the details of IndUS aviation, IPI Technologies, and the city of Weinan’s joint venture.

The press conference was a huge success. The fine people over at IndUS Aviation had arranged a beautiful lunch banquet for all those who had attended the press conference. The Press conference was split into two sections, with the details and briefings occurring during the first half of the press conference, then we took a recess to enjoy the wonderful lunch provided, then we finished up the press conference with Q & A. The media room was packed to the brim, with some of the late comers forced to listen from outside the room.

After the press conference, I was once again free to roam around the venue and explore as much of the event as possible. I spoke with more attendees about how they got into aviation and why they love it, and I visited some of the clubs and organizations booths to learn about what they do and why they do it. It was a great learning experience for me, as all the people I spoke with were more than happy to tell me about their past and how they got involved with aviation. While no two stories were the same, and each person had their own personal reasons for flying, there was one connecting theme to each person’s story, and that was simply a love for aviation.

Around 4pm on the fourth day, we left the the 2010 EAA AirVenture behind us. We left early that day to go to a grass field where CubCrafters were demoing their CarbonCub SS.

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