Ford Motor Co. takes EAA AirVenture Oshkosh to new heights in 2011, marking its 12th consecutive year as the exclusive automotive partner for the world’s greatest aviation celebration. The Ford Hangar will feature some of the latest advances in automobile technology, as well as many of the industry’s most revered classics, on the grounds of Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, July 25-31.
Ford’s commitment to bringing first-rate entertainment and attractions to the annual convention of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) includes expanded car shows, new activities and an evening dedicated to the blues.
EAA AirVenture 2011 will feature 10,000 aircraft, including 2,500 show planes, and is expected to attract more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts from more than 70 countries. The 59th edition of AirVenture also will host the largest collection of naval aircraft spanning all eras ever assembled in one location for the weeklong Centennial of Naval Aviation commemoration.
Ford will donate a one-of-a-kind, naval aviation-inspired 2012 “Blue Angels” Mustang for auction to support the EAA Young Eagles. This organization has provided free introductory flights to more than 1.6 million young people since 1992, while also teaching the value of hard work, personal responsibility and enhanced math and science skills.
“EAA AirVenture is an annual opportunity for Ford Motor Company to celebrate our aviation heritage and the innovation it has inspired in our vehicles with people passionate about cutting-edge technology and engineering,” said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of Ford’s Board of Directors. “This year, AirVenture will be even more exciting as we also celebrate the centennial anniversary of naval aviation and 110th anniversary of Ford Racing with exciting new activities and themes at the Ford Hangar.”
Ford will present rock band REO Speedwagon as the EAA AirVenture opening day feature performance, free of charge to all AirVenture guests. Concert activities will begin at 5:30 p.m., Monday, July 25, adjacent to the Ford Hangar. The group has sold more than 40 million records and charted 13 Top 40 hits, including No. 1 hits “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Keep on Loving You.”
Ford returns this year as presenting sponsor of the EAA AirVenture “Fly-In Theater.” This open-air Fly-In Theater will offer free evening entertainment. Located adjacent to EAA’s Camp Scholler camping area, each evening at approximately 8:30 p.m., thousands of patrons will watch free aviation-themed movies on the theater’s five-story screen while sitting under the night sky. Each feature will be introduced by a celebrity presenter or legendary aviator and the 2011 lineup includes Harrison Ford and George Lucas as presenters.
EAA AirVenture guests can see performance machines such as the John Force Racing team cars, the ROUSH performance lineup and view some of the world’s most timeless, pristinely restored Ford Motor Company vehicles at the Cruisin’ Legends car show on Knapp Street near Warbird Alley. Due to the popularity of Cruisin’ Legends in 2010, Ford has expanded the concept this year to accommodate more vehicles. The featured themes: Monday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 26 – Hot Rod Heaven; Wednesday, July 27 – Fabulous Thunderbirds and Model T’s; Thursday, July 29, Friday July 30 and Saturday, July 31 – Mustang Stampede. The popular Ford mechanical bucking bronco also will be hosted in the Cruisin’ Legends exhibit.
The John Force Racing Traveling Road Show, including five of his race vehicles, is a new addition for 2011. John Force’s own 8,000 horsepower Castrol GTX Ford Mustang will be displayed in the Ford Hangar.
As an added bonus to EAA’s “Super Saturday” on July 30, Ford will present Da BLOOZE Bros. The “ultimate tribute band” to The Blues Brothers will take center stage for an energetic blues set from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Ford Hangar as it is transformed into the “Ford Hangar of Blues.” Da BLOOZE Bros is led by real brothers Geoff and Chris Dahl. Their seven-piece band is one of only three groups worldwide officially sanctioned by Dan Aykroyd and the John Belushi estate for live performance of the legendary The Blues Brothers material.
Henry Ford’s Model T revolutionized the consumer automobile industry when it hit the market in 1908. More than 100 years later, thousands of EAA AirVenture attendees will join Ford in celebrating the innovation by partaking in a parade of fully-functional Model Ts, browsing an incredible collection of the vehicles and taking rides in any of several Model Ts on site with members of the Model T Ford Club of America. Experience a ride in a Model T on Thursday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the EAA Museum entrance.
The Ford Hangar, located at ConocoPhillips Plaza, also will feature the Lincoln Legends and Heroes “Autograph HQ” with celebrities, aviation enthusiasts, legendary performers and other special guests on site at various times throughout the course of the event, interacting with fans and signing autographs. Personalities scheduled to sign autographs for fans at the Ford Hangar include Jack Roush, John Force, astronauts and pilots.
For AirVenture 2011, Ford also will help celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation, with visitors able to launch down the “USS Henry Ford Cat Shot,” a 200-foot zip line; leap on the “Bungee Burner” power jump trampoline system; or challenge “The Rock Ladder” climbing experience.
Ford Hangar guests will have the opportunity test their racing skills with the Ford Fiesta Rally Simulator, experience the Laguna Seca race track, and test their mettle in an F-150 game area. Campers should watch for the Ford Transit Connect distributing free ice cream each evening in the campgrounds.
Ford and Flight: A History of Firsts
Ford’s association with flight dates back all the way to the company’s beginnings in 1903, the same year as the Wright brothers’ historic flight. Ford’s history in aviation includes a period in which the company was the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer.
After World War I, having already put the nation on wheels, Henry Ford decided to take the United States into the air, and in 1925 built the first Ford Tri-Motor airplane. The Tri-Motor was the first to be used by the country’s commercial airlines. Nicknamed the “Tin Goose,” it also was the United States’ first all-metal, multi-engine transport. The first Ford Airlines flight took off in 1925 and in 1926 made the first domestic airmail flight for the U.S. Government.
Henry Ford’s efforts paved the way for modern commercial air travel, including the construction of the world’s first modern airport and first concrete runway. Henry Ford also brought the famed assembly line production system to aviation in World War II, as Ford produced one B-24 Liberator bomber per hour at the height of need by Allied forces. In 1984, Henry Ford was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and in 2002, was recognized as one of only 12 aviation pioneers by the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission.