OSHKOSH, WI — America’s largest aviation gathering begins on Monday as aerobatic performances by top civilian and military aircraft — including the Navy’s Blue Angels — highlight the seven day EAA AirVenture Airshow.
Known as Oshkosh around the globe, AirVenture is a mix of airshow and open house with nearly 500 hundred thousand expected to descend upon the comunity near Lake Winnebago. Aerobatic, commercial, and private pilots will join the military’s finest during what many deem as the best airshow in the world.
“The Greatest Show on Earth”
“There’s no other event in the world like Oshkosh ,” U.S. and world champion aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff told this aerospace journalist on Thursday. “When you get so many people in one place focused on something they love, airplanes like music creates its own energy that is hard to describe but brings people today in a very positive way.”
Patty is a crowd favorite across America’s airshows as she pilots her Extra 300S aircraft during her dizzying aerobatic performance. She is poised to perform during the afternoon airshow.
“It’s really something to see,” Wagstaff added as her smile grew in the golden light of Florida’s setting sun. “I’m thrilled to be a small part of it, and I tell people that flying the airshow at Oshkosh is like flying in front of 100,000 of your best friends!”
As attendees arrive inside the front gates, exhibit hangers and aerospace-related workshops will await them as they make their way down Celebration Way and towards the airfield. Dotted along the airstrip near the airshow crowd line are aircraft poised to perform in the days ahead.
Aeroshell Aerobatic Team performs aboard four North American advanced trainer AT6 Texan aircraft, nicknamed the pilot maker, by the Greatest Generation of pilot during World War II. The team is midway through their 24 city schedule this year which includes three international visits.
“Oshkosh AirVenture — the greatest show on earth — it doesn’t get any better,” said Steve Gustafson, Team Aeroshell pilot and true Oshkosh fan. “Every time I go to AirVenture, I’m in awe. Every year there’s something different, so even if you go to Oshkosh each year, you’ll discover it will be different.”
Aeroshell’s warbirds perform many of the maneuvers flown by the pilots of the Army’s air corps. as they trained to pilot the P-40 Warhawk and P-51 Mustang fighters. Today, Steve looks at Aeroshell as a centerpiece at Oshkosh bridging the aircraft of yesteryear with that of today’s top jet aircraft. He also appreciates the interest of the crowds attending the annual show.
“Good people, good fun, and good family entertainment,” Steve told AvGeekery during a candid visit on Thursday. “You go to Oshkosh and people are so polite and they don’t throw trash on the ground. They just enjoy airplanes, and enjoy the freedoms we should never take for granted in this country. And, Oshkosh is the perfect example of one of those freedoms to never even take for granted.”
Oshkosh 2017 will mark the Blue Angels first full team performance at EAA AirVenture. Their 54 minute performance will begin with a demonstration flight by their popular C-130T cargo transport aircraft nicknamed Fat Albert.
The U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron’s jets will then display many of the maneuvers performed by today’s naval pilots as they fly during the last five days of Oshkosh. Their F/A-18 Hornets will first scream across the skies above Wittman airfield on Wednesday afternoon as the squadron arrives behind Fat Albert.
The Blues diamond formation will depart on a brief flight Thursday at about 5:05 p.m. to familiarize themselves with the area. The two solo jets will perform their own orientation flight on Friday morning as they flyover the airfield and surrounding region and perform a few airshow maneuvers of their own. Fat Albert’s all-Marine crew will take the C-130T up for their own familiarization flight.
On Friday, the Blues will perform their practice demo at 4:05 p.m.; on Saturday, their flight demos will begin at 5:05 p.m.; and on Sunday, the squadron will fly a non-aerobatic performance beginning at 3:30 p.m.
The Blue Angels will also participate in public outreach during the week. Right wing pilot LT. Damon Kroes will address attendees on Thursday at Warbirds in Review. On Friday, members of the Blues flight team and maintenance personnel will sign autographs and answer questions beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the Welcome Center.
Breitling’s Historic DC-3 to Attend Oshkosh
Whittman’s runway 18/36 runs due north and south and will become center stage on Monday as various types of aircraft arrive each day, including Breitling’s own DC-3. The Swiss-based DC-3 is currently two-thirds into a flight around the world, and is scheduled to visit the popular airshow as a static display for 10 days.
“This aircraft played such an important role in American history and it is a privilege to share it with American aviation fans,” Breitling DC-3 Captain Francisco Agullo said. “We look forward to seeing this country’s rich culture and passion for aviation.”
The historic DC-3 is poised to become the oldest aircraft to fly around the world once it completes its circumnavigation of the globe on September 13.
Great weather is forecast during most of AirVenture in the week ahead, allowing attendees a chance to witness great aircraft and receive a stronger appreciation of the aerospace industry.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)