19 September 2014

The Fly-in

Welcome back. Two years ago, I blogged that my father-in-law hosts a Saturday Coffee Hour on his Wisconsin farm every Saturday except the week of AirVenture, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual convention in nearby Oshkosh.

Last year was the first I was actually here during AirVenture. Although I didn’t attend the weeklong event, I did endure the daily din of aircraft passing as often as every 30 or so seconds from 7 AM to 8 PM, a couple of days before the convention until its end. This year, I ignored the noise, and my father-in-law, an AirVenture regular, gave me a tour of the event.

2014 AirVenture poster.

If you’re familiar with AirVenture, don’t bother reading more; but do stop back next Friday for a different, yet undefined blog topic. If you’re not familiar with AirVenture, please continue reading even if like me you have no particular interest in airplanes. AirVenture is impressive!

AirVenture’s Scope

I’ve attended and organized numerous conventions and conferences but none like this.
-Attendance: Over 500,000 people (that figure may count visits rather than registrants) from 69 countries.
-Aircraft: Over 10,000 planes arrived in Oshkosh and at nearby airports, including some 2,500 show planes. Measured by traffic movement, Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport becomes the world’s busiest airport.
-Exhibitors: 800
-Media: 917 representatives from 5 continents.
-Event Volunteers: 5,400.

Layout of eastern portion of Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport for 2014 AirVenture. Note parking/camping areas, from left, orange-warbirds; greenish-homebuilts; reddish–vintage, show and seaplane/amphibious; blue-ultralight/rotorcraft.(see P.S. for glossary). (from www.eaa.org/~/media/Files/AirVenture/AV14_VisitorsMap.pdf)
-Air Shows: Along with aircraft on display (e.g., NASA’s high altitude WB-57) and scheduled “mass arrivals” of specific models (e.g., Cessnas, RVs), daily air shows featured aerobatics, innovations, rare and unique aircraft, and showcases of vintage aircraft and warbirds, the latter with pyrotechnics. Included were demonstrations of the USMC MV-22B Osprey and multiple shows by the USAF Thunderbirds flying F-16s as in the AirVenture poster.

-Forums, Workshops, Presentations: I don’t know how many were held, but between 8:30 AM and 9:45 AM on the day we visited, there were 23 concurrent sessions (e.g., Aircraft Building 101, FAA Medical Certification, Gas Welding 101, Propellers for Homebuilts, International Miniature Aerobatic Club).

-One-Week Wonder project: In one convention activity, over 2,500 participants contributed to building and flight testing an airplane (Zenith CH 750 Cruzer) in one week.

Touring the Airport Grounds

Enough chit chat. Though we didn’t attend any presentations or formal air shows during our two-hour visit, here’s some of what I saw.

Privately-owned commercial aircraft of attendees, some of whom camped by their planes.
One of several dedicated camping areas filled with tents. Showers, porta-johns and dining facilities were available.
With convention activities spread over such a large area, alternative means of transportation were made available.
The Theater in the Woods was one entertainment site.
Buildings were set aside for specific groups, such as this Homebuilders' Hangar.
Concurrent and repeating workshops were held in dedicated spaces.
Experimental homebuilt aircraft parked in this area.
An ultralight helicopter hovers in one spot during a demonstration.
An experimental, homebuilt rotorcraft flew overhead.
Wrap Up

Thanks for stopping by. I plan to post more photos of aircraft and exhibits at the 2014 AirVenture next Tuesday. I hope you’ll be back.

P.S.

Sources of AirVenture information:
www.eaa.org/en/airventure
macsblog.com/2012/08/half-a-million-at-oshkosh-cant-be-wrong/
www.thenorthwestern.com/search/airventure/
www.gizmag.com/osh-kosh-airshow-highlights/33209/

Categories of aircraft (these overlap and much more can be said about each): 

-Experimental Aircraft are those that are safe to operate but for which the Federal Aviation Administration issues a special airworthiness certificate because the aircraft does not have or conform to a standard type certificate. This special airworthiness certificate is also issued for a primary category aircraft that was built from a kit but without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder. (www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/airworthiness_certification/aw_overview/)  
-Homebuilt Aircraft are pretty much what the name implies--constructed by amateurs, i.e., those who don’t build aircraft professionally. Nearly all homebuilts are labeled experimental. (www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/ultralights/amateur_built/) 
-Light Sport Aircraft have single reciprocating engines, fixed pitch or ground adjustable propellers, no more than two seats and a defined maximum weight and stall speed. The category covers a variety of ultralights and powered parachutes, antiques and classics as well as the latest composite aircraft. They’re easy to fly and thus offer new pilots the benefit of learning to fly much faster. (www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/sport_pilot/)
-Ultralight Aircraft have one seat, fly no faster than 55 knots, have a maximum stall speed (power off) of 24 knots, carry no more than 5 gallons of fuel and, when empty, weigh no more than 155 lbs if unpowered or 254 lbs if powered. Ultralight pilots require no license or medical certificate. (Powered Parachutes are ultralights that have a parachute, motor and wheels.)
-Vintage Aircraft encompass antique (built prior to 1 Sep 1945), classic (built 1 Sep 1945 through 1955) and contemporary (built 1956 through 1970) aircraft.
-Warbirds are vintage military aircraft, generally restored or replicated.

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