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Free Warbird Tram Tour Gives Visitors Historical Perspective
By Ti Windisch
July 24, 2017 - The Warbird Tram Tour, a daily guided tour running every half-hour — starting at 7:30 a.m. until the last tour at 1:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday — is a narrated journey through the 12 Warbirds area zones.
A briefing prior to the Warbird Tram Tour sheds light on the tour’s focus. As with EAA AirVenture Oshkosh itself, there’s a lot more to the tour than just the aircraft.
The briefing adds historical perspective, giving riders a sense of the hurried circumstances that followed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Going directly from the briefing into an area occupied by warbirds from that era allows the tram tour guide to relate the experiences of teenagers in the 1940s who quickly learned to fly and then found themselves piloting P-51 Mustangs into combat against a fearsome enemy.
The Warbird Tram Tour covers just about every kind of aircraft located in the Warbirds area, identifying them but also focusing on the bigger picture: the people behind the planes.
Although tram riders sometimes offer to donate to Warbirds of America, Warbirds Marketing Director Vic Krause, EAA 292930, directs them to the gift shop instead, asking them to pick up a cool item. His “diabolical” plan of dropping off riders by the Warbirds gift shop and membership tents seems less dastardly when the complimentary gift bags and tram tour experience are factored into the equation.
“The real reason we’re doing this is we hope you have such a great time on this ride — you have so much fun, and we make you laugh, we make you cry, and everything in between — and at the end you realize we ain’t a bad group of folks to join up with, because we would love to have you,” Vic said. “Consider being a member of Warbirds of America.”
Maybe the best item related to the tour is one that’s not for sale, but rather given to all Warbird Tram Tour riders: an aircraft recognition chart with front and side views of 12 warbirds located in the Warbirds area that leads to an incredible scavenger hunt.
“You can take that document and turn it into something priceless, something you can’t buy in a gift store, and something no one else will have,” Vic said. “You take that aircraft recognition chart, and as you wind your way around after the tram ride you’ll know where all the zones are, and you walk up to one of the crew members on one of the aircraft that’s depicted on the chart, and have them sign it.”
Although the Warbird Tram Tour has been running for seven years now, its growing popularity has led to the addition of a second tram. Now, tours run every 30 minutes instead of hourly.
The free tour of the Warbirds area is a benefit to any AirVenture attendee, and the extra attention it brings to Warbirds of America supports the organization’s mission and motto: “Keep ’em Flying.”