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AirVenture 2015 Ready to Launch

A mainstay of the U.S. Air Force for more than six decades, a massive Boeing B-52 touches down Friday on Runway 36L for its EAA AirVenture Oshkosh debut.

By Dave Higdon

July 18, 2015 - New, improved, different. Yet somehow, always the same. That’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, which annually focuses worldwide attention on the aviation community.

The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration arguably attracts the most diverse array of flying devotees. They come for the variety of aircraft displayed, for the daily entertainment, and the nearly non-stop aviation action.

But mainly they come for the people; to learn, to commune, to grow, and to spread the gospel of flight to their friends back home.

As the throngs flow onto the field Sunday, they bring with them the spirit of aviation and an eagerness to revel in a world wholly devoted to the wonders of flight for the next seven days.

They’ll see new planes and products, old aircraft and the people who flew them. They’ll catch glimpses of aviation’s future.

“The most significant change since last year is here in Vintage,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton, speaking to AirVenture Today from in front of the new, improved Red Barn hangar. He also noted an expanded area for Warbirds of America programs near the north end of the grounds.

“We continue to upgrade the facilities each year, with newer, nicer porta-potties, new showers in homebuilts, and smaller changes—it’s an ongoing process.”

Mother Nature’s early curve ball

Pelton came to the interview after a morning spent attending to the aftermath of a storm that raced through the Oshkosh area around dawn Saturday. “Hopefully, from here, with the skies clearing up we’ll be back on track with the arrivals,” he said as traffic resumed arrivals.

Some minor damage befell some of the displays and a small number of aircraft, but the storm’s impact could have been far worse. And by afternoon arrivals were flowing again.

A Boeing B-52 bomber made for Friday’s most attention-grabbing arrivals as it made history for becoming the first BUFF to land at Wittman Regional Airport, an accomplishment requiring significant advanced preparation by airport management and EAA.

With a wing span exceeding 150 feet and outrigger wheels supporting the expansive wings on the ground, airport crew had to remove runway lights to prevent damage and replace them again to be available that night.

The 1961-vintage BUFF—Big Ugly Fat Fellow—is on display on, fittingly, Boeing Plaza.

Pelton also noted an expanded, more diverse lineup for the daily air shows scheduled for AirVenture 2015. And it’s but one of the scores of attractions on tap for AirVenture 2015.

Consider this packed agenda for the seven days of AirVenture 2015:

The Daily Air Show

Alternately thrilling and awe-inspiring, AirVenture 2015 again brings to the fore a long list of aviation’s most talented and inventive air-show performers carving intricate smoke patterns against the blue Wisconsin sky.

Monday’s show includes a tribute to EAA’s late founder, Paul Poberezny and a celebration marking 75 years of Ercoupes, an Airbus A350 demo, the Warbirds of America arrival show and the first round of the Valdez STOL competition.

AirVenture audiences on Wednesday and Saturday will get a double-dose of airborne entertainment thanks to the night air show.

Speaking of entertainment

Monday evening Dierks Bentley takes to the stage on Boeing Plaza to entertain the opening-day crowds with his rocking brand of country music—and that’s after an afternoon filled with aerial entertainment. Read more about this talented musician on page 6 of Sunday’s AirVenture Today.

Other opportunities include evening programs at the Theater in the Woods and the nightly movies at the EAA Fly-In Theater, sponsored by Ford Motor Company. Along with the free movies—starting each evening but Sunday around 8:30 (and after the night show on Saturday), the venue provides the popcorn. Just bring a chair or blanket and settle in to enjoy the assortment of movies planned. The lineup is detailed on page 22 of Sunday’s AirVenture Today.

Apollo 13 perspectives: From the men involved—45 years ago

Gene Kranz and Milt Winder directed the mission from Houston; Bill Reeves served as the lunar module controller. Jim Lovell and Fred Haise experienced the mission from inside the space vehicles, along with the late Jack Swigert, who landed in the Command Module pilot’s seat when Ken Mattingly was grounded after exposure to German measles.

The five participants face a busy schedule of events that includes a Wednesday evening Theater in The Woods program and culminating Friday evening when Windler and Reeves introduce the Ron Howard film Apollo 13 to the audience at the EAA Fly-In Theater. You’ll find more about the movie schedule on page 4 of Sunday’s AirVenture Today.

The Apollo Mustang

AirVenture 2015 attendees can check out the 2015 Ford Mustang, a one-of-a-kind custom built to commemorate the Apollo space program. From its custom interior—with seat backs embroidered with patches from all the Apollo missions—special paint and powerplant, this Mustang will be a focal point for Thursday evening’s Gathering of Eagles auction in the Eagle Hangar.

Regarding NASA

The only organization on Earth to send men around and onto the Moon—and return them all safely—celebrates the centennial of its creation here at AirVenture 2015. Originally named the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, or NACA, NASA promoted advances in the sciences of aviation from its 1915 founding until its 1958 reorganization as the agency we know today—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Learn more about the centennial events scheduled on page 4 of Sunday’s AirVenture Today.

More anniversaries

This year marks the 75th year of that venerable little airplane we call the Ercoupe; it’s also the 40th anniversary of Burt Rutan’s first canard design, the popular single-seat VariEze. Rutan is back to commemorate not only that iconic design but also other aircraft from his long career of designing aircraft for builders, including the LongEZ and one canard-equipped certificated aircraft, the Beech Starship 2000. Learn more about Rutan Legacy Day events on page page 12 of Sunday’s AirVenture Today.

Another 40th anniversary is also in the AirVenture spotlight, when John Moody foot-launched his powered Icarus II hang glider from level ground. That flight on the power of a small, two-cycle engine launched a movement that we know today as Ultralights and tagged Moody with the title of “father of Ultralight aviation.” You can find more about the commemoration of Moody’s accomplishment on page 12 of Sunday’s AirVenture Today.

Warbirds, kids, old timers, and more

There’s the world’s only homebuilt Supermarine Spitfire; a Lancaster bomber; the only flying Mosquito bomber. There’s KidVenture and drones, builders clinics, and the Pilot Proficiency Center.

The list is far more than one article can contain—typical of the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration and a reason people return to Oshkosh year after year.

So consult our website, the AirVenture Today newspaper, or the AirVenture app for more details about the vast list of events, flying, fun, and people at EAA AirVenture 2015.See you on the flightline.

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