Looking to the Sky in Wisconsin

August 3, 2010 9:00 am

Never seen an air show? You’re missing out. And you never would have guessed where you could fill this void: Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

AirVenture began in 1953 as a fly-in convention, and still is. As a customer service rep at a private airport (otherwise known as an FBO) in nearby Appleton, I typically spend this last week of July swamped in invoicing, filing, fueling, getting ice, recommending hotels and restaurants and finding 15W-50 for the hundreds of pilots who land at Maxair for AirVenture. But this year, Cinderella got Friday off and headed to the ball.

To cut to the chase, the highlights are the afternoon air shows, which happen every day. On Friday, I saw Chuck Aaron pilot the Red Bull Helicopter and the four-plane AeroShell Aerobatic Team (in the video), among others.

But after the shows, it’s easy to get caught up in lectures about concept jets that have been years in the works, like Cessna’s $1.7 million Citation Mustang, as well as new designs like Cobalt’s five-seater Co50, reminiscent of a fighter jet. Rare aircraft include the last SB2C “Helldiver” WWII dive bomber flying in the world, a Charles Lindbergh-era DC-2 and a restored Eastern Airlines DC-7 that American hero “Sully” Sullenberger flew on Wednesday beside FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

Military aircraft arrive every year, too, and this year two favorites — the WWII-era B-17 bomber and the DC-3 — celebrated their 75th birthdays during the week of AirVenture. (A B-17 can be booked for rides both at Oshkosh and at Maxair.) You can also see modern military aircraft on the ramp, like the drones Predator and Global Hawk, as well as the Bell-Boeing V-22, an airplane with a helicopter rotor attached to each fixed wing.

If you happen to own your own Cessna 172, plan to spend your nights next July dozing behind the wheel at a “Fly In Movie” and pay Maxair a visit!

Tara for TKGO

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