Travel Tips for Oshkosh
Oshkosh, B'Gosh! World's Largest Airshow!!!
"On the (High) Road Again!"
The word Oshkosh and the town Oshkosh in Wisconsin are universally known by aircraft pilots as shorthand for the annual World's largest Airshow put on by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and known this year as EAA AirVenture 2008. Midwest flooding rains and storms prior to the week's show commencing 28 July this year through 3 August kept attendance down somewhat, but over 10,000 aircraft and 540,000 paid attendees made the premier aviation event of each year a huge success. In 2007 by comparison 560,000 paid attendees were recorded. We were blessed with unusually good weather and no rain at the show all week. This year, 2009, attendance was 578,000 for the week. I didn't attend in 2009, but wished that I had done so. By comparison, the every-other-year Paris, France Airshow attracts about 350,000 people in a week.
Over 2,100 foreign visitors were in attendance in 2008, including a pilot who flew his small, single engine homebuilt aircraft solo all the way from Israel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin more than 5,000 miles in 47 flying hours taking nine flying days via Scotland, Iceland, Greenland ($16/gallon gas!) and Goose Bay, Labrador. My flight was far less intrepid-no ocean crossing! I arrived early on Saturday 26 July by a Beech Bonanza model 36 in a day and a half trip from Camarillo, California's airport near my home. I took the above photo off the Bonanza's wing tip tank enroute.
We continued on flying the Bonanza after the big airshow to Dayton, Ohio to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. We then skirted a midwest storm to Springfield, Missouri and then stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico before returning home on a great flying vacation.
Lest you think this is just a trip summary, I have prepared tips on where to stay and eat in Oshkosh. There are other attractions year around in and around Oshkosh. I used to fish near Oshkosh which is in Wisconsin's extensive lake country years ago when in Grad School living in Illinois.
Oshkosh is home of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, which profits by the big annual airshow by offering inexpensive dorm accommodations to airshow visitors, as every hotel and motel for miles around is solidly booked for the annual event, which is in the last week of July each year. I stayed in the University dorm private room this year on a floor with many Australian visitors. Some have attended every year for 32 years or so, making Oshkosh an annual pilgrimage. If you are interested in light aircraft or are an aircraft nut like myself, Oshkosh is the place to be in late July each year. Please click on the smaller photos to enlarge them.
"Open 6:30 am to Late Night Each Day."
The airshow grounds open at 6:30 am each day and and visitors are admitted showing their wristband they wear all week. Single day or multiple day attendance is also available using color-coded wristbands. Several celebrities were in attendance. Movie star John Travolta flew his own Boeing B707 jet in from Florida and Harrison Ford of filmdom was also there. Ford is the head of the EAA Young Eagles Program, which nationwide offers free light airplane rides to children from 8 to 18 to foster interest in aviation and flying. Harrison Ford owns and flies several light aircraft. Evening programs hosted by these stars introduced and showed their films. Pro golfer and pilot Arnold Palmer spoke at the annual Gathering of Eagles dinner in the EAA Museum hangar one evening. Arnie Palmer has logged 18,000 hours as pilot and has stated he couldn't have been a pro golfer without learning to fly.
Display aircraft to be judged are grouped by vintage or make and model in a well orchestrated fly-in and specific parking areas on the huge grounds. Sixty-seven Piper Comanche aircraft flew in arrival formation, recognizing the 50th birthday of the model. The 50th anniversary of production of the Nanchang China CJ-6A tandem trainer warbird aircraft was also celebrated with 38 of them flying formation forming a big 50 in the sky. The Goodyear Blimp gave rides, as did a historic Ford Tri-Motor. The EAA Museum was open and a special treat. The new F-22 Raptor fighter gave amazing vectored thrust flight demonstrations. The U.S. Marines' V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft flew and was on display, as was the WWII P-38 "Glacier Girl", restored after buried for years under Greenland ice and snow. The huge Boeing modified 747 Dreamlifter wowed the crowd. Warbirds and new aircraft models vied for the crowd's attention. New technology introductions, including an electric motor-powered aircraft, always are a feature of the annual show. A special section of WWII warbirds is always a special treat, with famous P-51s, P-38s, P40s and big bombers such as B-17s, B-24s and B-25s always a crowd favorite. Some rare one-of-a-kind flying warbirds were on display.
There are many seminars, a daily airshow from 3;30 to 6 pm with incredible aerobatics and indoor and outdoor manufacturers' displays to tempt the visitor. So many things occur simultaneously it is impossible to take it all in. The EAA publishes their own 40 page free daily newspaper with event schedules and color photo stories from the previous day's events, using their own photographers and writers. There is something for everyone, including children. A photographer's dream, I took 2,000 aircraft photos available from my other site linked on my VT Home Page.
"The EAA's Seaplane Base on Lake Winnebago"
Vette-Blust 96WI is the official name of a seaport cove on Lake Winnebago just a few miles south of Wittman Regional airport that serves the floatplanes and amphibian aircraft for water landings that attend the EAA AirVenture airshow. It is a cool, shady respite from the sun at Wittman Field during the annual event, where you can also tent or RV camp there if attending the airshow and eat there also. I highly recommend you also visit the seaplane base while attending the annual airshow. Regular bus service round trips are provided from the airshow airport to the seaplane base. I have just added a special Travelogue on the seaplane base.
Chinese Warbirds at AirVenture 2008 & One YAK
"Finest Nose Art at EAA AirVenture 2008"
Painting a message with a pretty girl on the nose or cowl of a military aircraft reached its zenith in World War II and has continued the tradition in fine form since that time. Overseas pilots and aircrew were homesick and cowl art served to buoy their spirits, remind them what they were fighting for and gave them a message to take into combat. This collection of photographs of Chinese-made military trainers continues that tradition. I have selected this most attractive example as the finest I saw at EAA AirVenture 2008 this year. The message is a clever pun, with dual meaning here. This aircraft is so attractive I have shown a full view of it with more information in the next Chapter. Please click on the small photos to enlarge them.
"Nanchang China CJ-6A Military Trainer"
Here is the entire aircraft seen in the first photo. You can see the legs of three admirers of it's nose art on the other side of this camouflage-painted aircraft. The Nanchang China CJ-6A is China's very first indigenous aircraft design, and this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of its continuous production. Quite an achievement. About 200 CJ-6As are registered in America, as the Chinese rebuild the radial engines at 600 hours of use and then sell them when a relatively low number of hours have been accumulated. This aircraft is powered with the standard engine, a Chinese design Huosai 6J-1A nine cylinder radial of 285 horsepower. Registered as Experimental class, N53 CJ is corporate-owned.
""Yankee Go Home""
Another Nanchang China CJ-6A with cowl art is "Yankee Go Home", a clever twist in good fun as this is a Chinese-built aircraft. Registered as N98GS, this aircraft is also an Experimental class aircraft. Often mistaken for the similar Yak 52 two-place tandem trainer, the CJ-6As have a squared tall tail rather than a rounded tail, flush riveting, a cranked-dihedral wing and fully-retractable landing gear. Because these aircraft are designed to operate in harsh, cold weather, they do not use a battery to start the engine or lower or raise landing gear and wing flaps. These functions are performed by a high-pressure air bottle that is recharged by an engine pump while running. "Yankee Go Home" flew to Oshkosh from its home base in Minnesota, another cold place in the Winter (I know as I grew up there.)
"My Occasional Ride"
N147M is a very familiar CJ-6A as I get welcome rides in it at my home field of Santa Paula Airport, California where it is based. Owned and flown by a retired Continental Airlines pilot, this CJ-6A has an upgraded Russian Vedeneev (Ivchenko) M-14P nine cylinder 360 horsepower radial engine installed in place of the Chinese Huosai 6J of 285 horspower with a very large near-square blade tip propeller mod. This is a fairly common engine swap in the Nanchang China CJ-6A community known in America as the Red Star Pilot's Association. Getting rides in this aircraft which does mild aerobatics enables me to get in-flight photography shots otherwise unobtainable. This aircraft participated in the celebration of the Nanchang China CJ-6A 50th year of production doing synchronized group flight during the afternoon airshow. The planes made a big "50" formation in flight to commemorate the event.
""NOTAYAK" Has New Dragon Art."
"NOTAYAK" is a 1977 Nanchang China CJ-6A whose owner/pilot Tom want everyone to know it is NOT a Yak 52, a common mis-identification. So, in bamboo-shaped yellow-gold letters-NOTAYAK adorns this aircraft's vertical tail. I was pleased to see Tom's new addition, a fancy gold Chinese dragon recently painted on each side of the fuselage. A pity the cockpit cover partially hides the menacing dragon from a fuller view. This aircraft frequently flies into Santa Paula Airport in Southern California from its base in eastern Nevada. Tom and his wife are tall so they have bubble top canopy mods in light-gray plexiglass to give more headroom. They flew it to Oshkosh from the state of Washington where they had been on vacation. Registered Experimental class, this is N63727.
"Highly Modified, Stunning CJ-6A."
Another Southern California-based Nanchang China CJ-6A, N556TR, a 1968 model has been highly modified and is in stunning appearance and condition, right down to the fake bullet holes. The engine has been upgraded to the 360 horsepower Russian Vedeneev (Ivchenko) M-14P radial. There is a new smoked plexiglass canopy, completely new panel instruments with GPS, and attractive refinish. Note that CJ-6A owners have taken liberty with new color schemes; probably N147M above with Chinese yellow lettering on the green with slight red trim is most original. N556TR here shows the cranked-dihedral wing and trailing-link soft fully-retracting landing gear to advantage. This aircraft also has a three-blade propeller mod to better suit the substantial power increase..
Emulating the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks and Warhawks "Flying Tigers" of early World War II, this CJ-6A is also a flying tiger, complete with wings on the tiger art and a brazen mouth of snarly teeth on the cowl. N6097U is a 1973 Nanchang China CJ-6A with original equipment Huosai 285 horsepower radial engine, attractively finished in camouflage gray with red stars. This aircraft flew to Oshkosh from its base in Virginia.
"Compare the YAK 52 with the CJ-6A."
The Chinese originally built the Yakovlev YAK 52 under license from Russia before designing and building their own similar, but different Nanchang CJ-6A tandem trainer. Because I have referred to the YAK before here, it is only fair that I show and describe one. N352SH is an Aerostar YAK 52 built in Romania under license in 1985. Note the rounded, smaller tail, an easy differentiation from the Nanchang China CJ-6A. The YAK wing has straight, not cranked dihedral, from the wing root. The YAK 52 does not have flush rivets, and the different straight-leg landing gear does not retract fully, making for some drag, but less damage in event of a gear-up landing. The YAK 52 also uses pneumatic air engine start and actuation of the landing gear and flaps. N352SH is registered Experimental class and based in Wisconsin. Power is one Vedeneev (Ivchenko) M-14P radial of 355 horsepower. Later models of the Romanian Aerostar YAK 52 use a VOKBM (Bakanov) M-14P radial of 355 horsepower.
Vintage Production Aircraft at EAA AirVenture 2008
"1938 Stinson SR-10J RELIANT"
This is a very historic aircraft restored to the condition and appearance when it was flown by Jimmie Doolittle. Later, Lt. Col. Doolittle in April 1942 led the 16 North American B-25 Mitchell bombers on the raid that bombed Japan in retaliation for their surprise attack that bombed Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941. "A date that will live in infamy" was America's entrance into World War II. Doolittle was promoted to General for this effort, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, our Nation's highest military award..
The Stinson Gull Wing Reliant series is one of the prettiest classic aircraft with its distinctive gull wings and attractive bump cowl covering the Lycoming R-680 7 cylinder 290 horsepower radial powerplant in the -10J model. A sweet flying airplane with strong, wide base conventional main landing gear, the SR-10 is considered the ultimate and most attractive development of the Reliant series. Registered N21104. Please click on the following smaller pictures to enlarge them. Then, click on "Back" to see and read the next paragraph aircraft.
"1939 WACO ZKS-7 Cabin Biplane"
This rare beautifully restored 1939 WACO ZKS-7 cabin-class biplane of the WACO S series with constant-chord wing delivered in standard form without extras is powered by a Jacobs L5 radial engine rated at 225 horsepower. Registered as N20902.
"1946 Beech G17S STAGGERWING"
The classic Beech Staggerwing biplane is revered for its powerful beauty and fast 200 mph performance. Distinguished by its reverse staggered wings, this aircraft attracts an admiring crowd wherever it lands. Not often seen in apple green, this postwar-built Beech was the last Beech model with intricate and complex wood former construction over steel truss with full fabric-covering. The model 17 first flew in 1932, and the last were finished in 1948. Main and tail landing gear are retractible, aiding its speedy performance. Power is a Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior radial of 450 horsepower. Registered N80309.
The earlier model D17S Staggerwiing served the US Army Air Force in World War II in liaison and communications roles as the UC-43 and some served the US Navy in quantity as GB-1s; others were lend-leased to Britain as JB Travellers.
"1931 Fairchild KR-21B"
This restored two-place tandem biplane is an EAA Museum asset displayed outdoors on the museum grounds during EAA AirVenture 2008. Power is a Kinner B5 (R-440) five cylinder radial engine of 125 horsepower. In 1929 the Fairchild Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation absorbed the Kreider-Reisner Aircraft Company and continued development of the KR C-6 Challenger as the KR-21. First flown with a 90 horsepower Kinner, the aircraft evolved through several different Kinner radial engines culminating in a 100 horsepower Wright radial as single example three-place KR-31. This KR-21B is authentically restored with the attractive uncowled five cylinder Kinner. Note the exhaust tube ring. Registered as NC954V.
"1943 Howard DGA-15P"
The Howards were large, powerful businessmen's four or five seat cabin aircraft that after 1941 were produced under contracts for the World War II effort. This Howard is restored in civilian livery and is powered by the most common engine used, the Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior radial of 450 horsepower. Benny Howard and Gordon Israel designed the Howard DGA-15s, developed from the Bendix Trophy Race-winning "Mr. Mulligan" in 1939. Howards were built in Chicago. DGA stands for "Damned Good Airplane". Registered as N66294.
"1941 Meyers OTW-145"
The Meyers OTW (Out to Win) series of tandem seat training biplanes were developed starting in 1939 to support the Civilian Pilot Training Program operating under the C.A.A. War Training Service prior to World War II. They were powered by either 125, 145 or 160 horsepower Warner radial air-cooled engines. With large wing area and large control surfaces they turned easily and climbed well. They were also noted for easy, gentle landings with long strut main gear. They used mixed construction with wooden wings and metal fuselage. This 1941 Meyers OTW-145 is powered by a Warner Super Scarab 145 radial engine of 145 horsepower. Registered as N34313, this Meyers is authentically restored.
"The Rare 1940 Harlow PJC-2"
This rare, all-metal streamlined four place cabin monoplane with radial engine was designed by Max Harlow in 1938 and only twelve production aircraft were built until December 1941. The pictured aircraft is serial #3 of the twelve. The sole prototype PJC-1 was built by students of Pasadena Junior College as a class project. A complex aircraft with retractible gear, high power and controllable-pitch prop, this example has been re-engined with a larger Warner R-550-3 185 Super Scarab radial of 200 horsepower. The original production engine in the PJC-2 was a Warner 145 horsepower Super Scarab seven cylinder air-cooled engine. Registered as N54KC. Remarkably, two Harlow PJC-2 were shown at Oshkosh. The EAA Museum there has N3947B, also a 1940 Harlow PJC-2, serial #6 of the twelve.
"1940 Cessna C-165 AIRMASTER"
Another low production aircraft not often now seen, the pre-war Cessna Airmaster tube and fabric high wing airplane was first built as the Cessna C-34 commencing in 1935 with 41 examples built, the C-37 in 1937 with 46 built and the C-38 in 1938, with 15 examples built. The C-38 was re-designated C-165 with the availability of the Warner Super Scarab 165 horsepower radial engine, and 41 were built until production end in 1941.
A hallmark of the Airmaster design was the cantilever wing, unsupported by any wing struts. The large, strong carry-though wing spar encroaches in the cabin overhead, interfering with tall pilots. Well, people were smaller in the 1930s, and ergonomics are now practiced and implemented in modern aircraft design. Registered as N237E, this 1940 C-165 Airmaster was the only one I encountered this year at EAA AirVenture. The next Cessna cantilever wing design was the all-metal 300 horsepower radial-engined C-195 Businessliner in 1947.