By Rick Siegfried, President, EAA Warbirds of America
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010 is just days away, and this year is shaping up to be a banner one for Warbirds of America. Executive Director Bill Fischer has been very busy this year coordinating many new items as well as the normal Warbird activities for Oshkosh. Bill deserves a special thank-you for all his efforts. New construction and improvements will help us in the warbirds area. The extension of the merchandise/registration building, moving of the former registration building to a new guest relations/welcome area, the new pavement for the Scotts Warbird Alley, and of course the new Veterans Tribute Memorial at the north end of Warbird Alley are a few.
Working with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, Warbirds of America also created a theme for this year – Salute to Veterans. This theme has been embraced by EAA and has become the theme for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, including this year’s official EAA poster, which is a Salute to Veterans featuring Warbird members flying a Heritage Flight with a P-51, P-38, F-86, and an A-10. Just as a reminder, the Warbirds Café, and more importantly, the ice cream store didn’t close. We just moved them to the area formally occupied by the Living History Group just west of Warbirds HQ.
The Salute to Veterans concept includes the distribution in the Warbirds area of 10,000 special hats to be given free to any veteran or active duty military person that stops by Warbird guest relations and fills out a form. We’ll encourage convention attendees across the entire site to go up to anyone wearing this special Salute to Veterans hat and thank him for his service to our nation. This program is made possible by EAA Warbirds of America, the DAV, and Oshkosh Defense Corporation. The Salute to Veterans has activities across the entire convention site, with forums, book signings, and programs during the week. To name just a few: dedication of Scotts Warbird Alley on Monday at Veterans Memorial Tribute area in Warbirds; Wednesday, group photo of veterans at Scotts Warbird Alley at noon, Theater in the Woods, Hal Weekley – The Last of the Combat B-17 Drivers followed by Salute to Veterans emceed by David Hartman; Friday’s Parade of Veterans from Scotts Warbird Alley to AeroShell Square, Tom Poberezny and Gary Sinise’s Veterans Tribute at AeroShell Square, and the week’s events cap off with the Theater in the Woods concert featuring actor Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
The ever popular Warbirds in Review will take place twice daily, thanks to Connie Bowlin and her team; once again we have a full schedule. Warbirds in Review has moved to the north end of Warbird Alley directly across from the new merchandise building. The Warbirds will be in the air show daily with formation group arrivals on Monday; Douglas Day “Max Effort” featuring DC-3 and C-47s during showcase and in the big Keep ’em Flying Warbirds Show on Tuesday; Vietnam Warbird tribute on Wednesday; Jet Day on Thursday; Warbirds Spectacular on Friday and Saturday, with B-17 Missing Man Flight on Friday; and Warbird Aerobatics on Sunday.
Evening activities for Warbird members include: Sunday’s Charlie Nogle Welcome Picnic (held in the Nature Pavilion), Monday’s U.S. Specialty Insurance Burger night, Tuesday’s Line Crew Pizza night, Wednesday’s Steak Night at Warbirds camping, Thursday’s DAV Warbird Dinner held in the Warbird area, as well as the gathering at the EAA AirVenture Museum, and Saturday’s wrap-up with the Warbirds of America Awards Banquet in the museum’s Eagle Hangar.
On Wednesday, the Warbirds of America Annual Member Meeting will be held in the Warbird Briefing building.
Scotts Warbird Alley will debut at the Warbirds in Review venue. Aircraft scheduled for this opening year are: Douglas C-47 “Tico Bell,” North American B-25 “Special Delivery” with DAV, Fargo Air Museum Japanese Zero, Lysander and F-86 “Hawk One” from Vintage Wings Canada, Douglas A-4 from Paul Woods, F4 Corsair from John O’Connor, North American P-51 “Red Tail” from Commemorative Air Force, Focke-Wulf 190 from Rudy Frasca, Boeing B-17 “Thunderbird” from Lone Star, and P-38 “Glacier Girl” from Rod Lewis. Some of these aircraft will rotate during the week. Special guests on Wednesday and Thursday will be U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds numbers 7 and 8.
As you can see, we’re getting ready for a wonderful time for Warbirds of America at Oshkosh 2010. You may not be able to make all the events, but our growth and success as an organization have led to some great choices. The most important thing to remember is that we’ll once again return to central Wisconsin to enjoy the warm weather, possible thunderstorms, a great collection of historic aircraft, and above all, the company of our friends.