I left the house at 4:30 am Friday morning for my flight out of Dayton that departed at 5:45. While I'm definitely not a morning person, I can make the occasional aviation exception. The flight from Dayton to Detroit was interesting - we deviated around some pretty heavy thunderstorms and I saw more lighting from my window seat on the CRJ than I've ever seen from the air before. We only hit one really good bump and arrived in Detroit on time. I grabbed breakfast and then boarded my flight to Milwaukee. The sky cleared somewhere between Detroit and Lansing and I had a great view of the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline as we passed south of Holland.
Thanks to carrying nothing more than a backpack, I went straight from the gate to the parking garage and picked up my rental car. I lucked out here and snagged a brand-new Impala. While I don't love Impalas, a loaded one with four (yes, four) miles on the odometer is hard to pass up. There was a little traffic getting out of Milwaukee but then things cleared until I was about 15 miles away from Oshkosh. Due to construction and Airventure I knew it would back up, so I exited early and zoomed up a side road to beat the traffic. I was parked and walking towards the airport just a few minutes before noon.
From that point on I took a bunch of photos, which I have posted below in chronological order. I'll let you skim through these and read their descriptions. Then I'll share some thoughts down at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!
Parked on the grounds, staring at EAA HQ, and ready for Airventure!
Pioneer Airport, also home to Kidventure this week
EAA's Bell 47 was giving helicopter rides
...and the new
While glass panels in a Cub are so very wrong, I'd still be happy to own one! :-)
The F-16 that overran the runway earlier in the week
EAA's Ford Trimotor was also busy giving rides all day
Bob Hoover himself - need I say more?!
Listening to Bob Hoover tell war stories = indescribably awesome
The famous brown arch
A cooler stroller does not exist in this world of ours
A very cool-looking F-18 painted in a special scheme
I was lucky - this is the only day the Dreamliner was at Oshkosh!
People waited in line for hours to climb aboard the 787
The 787 uses all-LED anti-collision lights
Love that there's duct tape on the landing gear strut!
My best friend Rob wanted lots of photos of this Hornet - I happily obliged...
US Navy Heritage Flight
Ariel Tweto from Flying Wild Alaska!
Staring back at the Dreamliner's nose
Side angle of the Hornet with the great tri-tone paint job
People were hiding under whatever wings they could find all day for shade
At one point during the airshow, I counted 39 airplanes flying in loose formation!
The Trojan Horsemen make their signature break to end their show
FIFI, the world's only flying B-29 Superfortress, makes a pass along the crowd line
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner begins its takeoff roll
Rotating off the runway after a day in Oshkosh for the 787's public debut
Springing off Runway 36, the Dreamliner says goodbye to the crowd
FIFI getting towed back in after flying in the airshow
The crowd quickly gathered again as soon as she pulled back into the plaza
Hard to believe she's the only B-29 left flying... but what a beautiful example she is!
Just a shot of the grounds - lots and lots of airplanes out there
I love Cessna 195s
Talk about an impeccably beautiful Stearman!
Towing a Navy E-2C back to the plaza
Burt Rutan's famous Boomerang
This Hornet flew in the Heritage Flight
One final shot of this F-18's awesome paint job
Sully and Jeff!
The world's busiest control tower (for this week, at least)
Leaving the grounds as the sun was setting
Hanging out at the Fly-In Theater, waiting to watch Apollo 13
For only having a single day what is probably the greatest aviation gathering on the planet, I had a great time. I listened to Bob Hoover tell war stories for an hour! That sentence explains itself but I should note that it was the second bucket list item to get crossed off this month, after seeing the Space Shuttle launch in early July. I finally got to meet up with Victoria (we missed her and her boyfriend Bob during the Shuttle launch) and chat with some other folks I know. We stood in line chatting for a little while and then got to meet the cast from Flying Wild Alaska!
While I didn't get to climb on board, I saw Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner up-close for the first time. The airshow was pretty good, too. After dinner from one of the concession stands, I wandered around and took some more photos. I saw Sully and Jeff of the Miracle on the Hudson ditching fame. Then I finally left the main grounds and headed over to the Fly-In Theater, where George Lucas himself premiered the trailer for his new movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails. Finally, I hung around the theater and enjoyed the free popcorn while watching Apollo 13.
It's awesome how many famous (at least to us aviators) people you meet, run into, or see walking around the grounds at Oshkosh. Having now spent a day there I really can affirm how special a place Airventure is for anyone who is interested in aviation. If you haven't had a chance to attend I hope you get an opportunity in the future. As for myself, I now am definitely planning on spending many more days there in upcoming years.