Oshkosh welcomes return of Lt. Dan Band

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band will return to EAA AirVenture in 2013 as the grand finale of a daylong salute to veterans at Oshkosh, Wis., on Friday, Aug. 2. Performing for the fourth time at EAA AirVenture since 2008, the popular band will be hosted at by the Disabled American Veterans and the EAA Warbirds of America at the Philips 66 Plaza stage.

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AirVenture Cup Race returns for 16th year

The EAA AirVenture Cup Race will continue racing in 2013 with the full support and involvement of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

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Second night air show added at AirVenture

A second night air show will be added to the line up at this summer’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Night air shows will be held Wednesday, July 31, and Saturday, Aug. 3.

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The Warbird Cub

The 75th anniversary of the Piper Cub was celebrated during AirVenture 2012. The vintage parking area looked like a field of buttercups for all the little yellow airplanes parked in the grass. But what was a J-3 Cub doing parked on the showcase pad in the Warbird area?

“That J-3 is an honest-to-goodness Warbird,” grinned Mike Porter from East Liverpool, Ohio.

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Snakes on a (vintage) plane

There are certain traditions at airshows. For example, AirVenture is not complete for me until I see Ron Johnson’s 1941 PT-22.

Although it’s technically a Warbird, Johnson, who hails from Rockford, Ill., parks in the Vintage Area — and places toy rubber snakes on the wings of his airplane. According to Johnson, the snakes are an international way of saying DON’T TREAD ON ME. That’s important when you have a low-wing open cockpit airplane, he says, noting that some people aren’t respectful of the “Please don’t touch” placards issued by the Experimental Aircraft Association at the Oshkosh show.

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The family Cub

“They look like a field of buttercups,” is how one visitor to AirVenture 2012 described the sea of J-3 Cubs parked in the vintage area of Oshkosh.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the popular Piper airplane and as part of the celebration Cubs arrived in droves at the big show, one after another like a disciplined line of butterflies. One of those belongs to Frank Swinehart, from Lock Haven, Pa., the very home of Piper Aircraft back in the day.

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The ever-popular Swift

When it comes to aircraft production, timing is critical. The history of general aviation is replete with designs that had the misfortune of being introduced at the beginning of the Depression or World War II, and then being lost to a nose-diving economy or a change in resource allocation. If it was a good design, the airplane came back when fortunes changed.

The Swift is one of the designs that went dormant during World War II and came roaring back in the post-war years to become one of the more popular two-place designs on the market. The Swift is a low-wing tailwheel design with side-by-side seating. In some circles, it’s compared to a flying sports car or even the P-51 Mustang.

What grabs you about the Swift when you see them parked in disciplined rows at airshows and fly-ins is the number of subtle variations to the design and finish. [Read more...]

The “Miss Muffet” Stearman

Stripes and spiders — not a combination most people would think of when designing a paint scheme for a vintage airplane, but that’s exactly what Merrill and MaDonna McMahan of Wausau, Wis., decided to do when they painted their 1941 Stearman.

The red, white and blue airplane sports small black spiders and the name “Miss Muffet” emblazoned on the side.

“Miss Muffet was what Dad called me when I was a little kid and I was in trouble,” MaDonna said. [Read more...]

Estelle Wingster: A vintage airplane with a modern message

In 1953 Ken Miller of Van Nuys, Calif., was a college student. He went to the airport with two friends and met a man who was giving rides in his Cessna 150.

“The guy said he would take each of us up for $10 a piece,” Miller recalled. “I had $20 in my pocket. The first guy goes but doesn’t have any money, so I paid for him. Then the second guy goes and he doesn’t have any money so I pay for him too and then I told the pilot I was out of money, but he took me up anyway. I was hooked, and took lessons whenever I could!”

Fast-forward several decades and about 1,500 flight hours later. Miller is at AirVenture standing next to a 1950s-era Cessna 195 with the name Estelle painted on the cowl and Wingster emblazoned on the top wings. According to Miller, the airplane is a flying billboard, designed to attract more people to aviation.

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Technically speaking…

The quest to find some answers at Oshkosh

In my last post, I had the gall to be less than positive about things at the Oshkosh airshow. I was surprised at the positive feedback about similar experiences. However, our publisher, Ben Sclair commented that to see Oshkosh through the eyes of a new aviation enthusiast is like a kid on Christmas morning — it is one of the greatest experiences ever (A suggestion for keeping the magic of AirVenture alive) And he is absolutely 100% correct.

But where are they going to find 500,000 new aviation enthusiasts every year? Since they are not available, they are going to have to depend on repeat visitors. And why do pilots return to Oshkosh, pay for their transportation, fight large crowds, and pay $250 dollars for a small hotel room? Well, most of us do it to learn what is new and to get answers to our many technical questions.

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