Earlier this month, I took a few days to visit the world’s largest fly-in at Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I took an airline into Milwaukee and rented a car from there.
That’s the U.S. Marine Corps Harrier above.
Some of the highlights were several talks given by Gen. Chuck Yeager (in the year of the 50th anniversary of his breaking the sound barrier) and Bob Hoover and a ride in a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor.
I also took a short lesson in a new (to me) category of aircraft, a gyroplane, at the nearby Fond du Lac Airport (FLD).
A gyroplane has nothing to do with pita bread or feta cheese; it is somewhat like a helicopter. I think the main difference is that the gyroplane’s rotor blade is not connected to the engine; it simply rotates with the wind. That means the controls are much simpler than a helicopter’s. A joystick is used for directional control, much like that of certain airplanes.
Here is a tribute to the Air Force’s 50th anniversary:
Here are some P-51 Mustangs, one piloted by Gen. Chuck Yeager:
Oshkosh was quite a good time, but I doubt I’ll go back soon since it’s so similar to Sun ‘n Fun, which isn’t too far from where I live. The weather was great, not as hot and humid as normal.
The only negative was that I had to drive an hour or two between the show and the motels. Oshkosh is a small town without much lodging, and I didn’t decide to go until about a month before. The state fair was going on at the same time, so even Milwaukee’s hotels were full.
If you aren’t camping at the show, make your lodging reservations several months in advance.
Warbirds in formation:
The event is much more than an airshow. The aerial performances take place every afternoon. There are many types of aircraft on display, some of which you can ride for a fee. There is a huge amount of exhibit space, like a trade show combined with an aviation flea market. There are also several lectures and classes given throughout the week.
Why can’t they all come out this sharp?
2001 update: A few years ago the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) changed the official name of the event to AirVenture, so they could trademark it. Lots of pilots still call it Oshkosh or the Oshkosh Fly-In, however.