Air Venture in Oshkosh continues to break the mould of air shows
By Paul Jansen
First-timers to Air Venture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin generally have the same reaction: open-mouthed awe.
No matter how much they have been told about the annual aviation event at the end of July in the United States, or how often they have visited the organizer’s website, newcomers find it amazing. The assembly of the greatest collection in quantity and quality of aircraft in the world in one place, the aerial shows that go on and on, the camaraderie of like-minded folks, all add to the experience.
Air Venture 2011 drew more than 10,000 aircraft, including a rare operational Mitsubishi Zero and a Spitfire, showed the world’s smallest (in the museum) and the latest (a Boeing 787 Dreamliner), and gave tantalizing tastes of the future in the shape of the plane-car Terrafugia and the luxurious plane-boat Icon.
The cavernous hangers housed so many merchants and such a variety of products at show prices that it was a rare visitor who kept his wallet closed.
More than 600,000 people visited the airport in the week beginning July 25, 2011 and many stayed back on Saturday evening for the night show, arguably the only such display in the world. Skydivers floated down with pyrotechnics strapped to their bodies. A formation of four vintage North American AT-6 Harvards blazed through the black sky in tight formation, their aerobatics made all the more difficult, and thrilling, by the fireworks pouring from their fuselages. Item after item kept the crowd glued to the heavens until 10 pm when the schedule concluded with ground-based fireworks.
Most amazing of all – the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Air Venture is organized and run almost entirely by volunteers – the pilots, ground marshallers, air traffic controllers, shuttle drivers, and so on – many of whom keep offering their time year after year.
For the report on the show, click here.
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