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ISSUE 27 - August 2008
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By Michael A. Likavec, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Chester, Virginia

Oshkosh is about flying. Four generations of fighters
fly by in formation to the delight of the Oshkosh crowd.

The official name of the event is AirVenture, but as long as I can remember pilots have always just called it Oshkosh. It is the event that a generation of pilots have come to know as the premier aviation gathering of the year. Making the pilgrimage to Oshkosh has become an annual ritual for thousands of pilots. Once an event for home builders and experimental aircraft, it has grown to be an international show attracting the newest technology from every corner of the aviation world. The latest business jets are on display but you can also admire the largest group of antiques aircraft to gather anywhere in the world. The EAA sponsors this event, the volunteers make it possible.

There are plenty of statistics available to describe Oshkosh. You can look at the number of attendees, the number of aircraft, the number of campers, vendors, hot dogs serves, etc. None of these numbers will really tell you much about the event. They will not show you the pride of the home-builder from Kansas who arrived in the aircraft he has finished after five long years of working evenings and weekends, or anything about the family from Colorado cooking out at the seaplane base after arriving in their Lake amphibian. The numbers will not tell you about the majesty of the warbirds, now 60 years old and restored to better condition than when they were new and headed off to war; or about the airmen, now old men, who have come to see these old friends. Oshkosh is about all of this, and the guy who saved his vacation days to fly his Cessna 140 a thousand miles just to camp under the wing and meet old and new friends. The numbers don't tell the story of the dreams that begin and are fulfilled at Oshkosh every summer.

Leaving the statistics and numbers to others, join me below for a walk around Oshkosh 2008, for a visit with the aircraft, pilots, friends and families who are Oshkosh.

Pre WWII Ford Trimotor

Oshkosh visitors who wanted to enjoy an aerial view of the event while experiencing an exciting bit of aviation history had the chance to take a ride in the Ford Trimotor. Few of these pre-WWII airliners are still flying, two were at Oshkosh this year. Ford built a total of 199 Trimotors which became know to the world as the Tin Goose. The Trimotors, built between 1929 and 1935, carried passengers and cargo to every corner of the world. Today, they create memories for Oshkosh visitors.


Warbirds make up an exciting part of the Oshkosh experience. This B24 (above) arrived early at Oshkosh to grace the flightline and capture the attention of aviators young and old. As time takes its toll on the WWII aircraft, members of the Commemorative Air Force, the EAA and other groups struggle to keep these great machines in the air. You can see them in any number of museums but its just not the same as hearing and feeling the big radial engines lift these aircraft from the runway.


The more adventurous visitors to Oshkosh had the opportunity to take a ride in a Breezy (above). The Breezy is an experimental airplane that has been popular with home builders since 1965. Younger visitors seemed lead the way when it came to riding in the Breezy.


Feeding the thousands of visitors to Oshkosh is no small task. Cafes are located throughout the Wittman Airport grounds offering meals and snacks morning noon and night. This group enjoys lunch with classic aircraft parking in the background.

EAA Museum

Any visit to Oshkosh should include a stop at the EAA museum on the grounds at Wittman Airport. The museum preserves the history and the heritage of the the experimental and home built aviation movement along with a significant collection of military aircraft. Admission to Oshkosh includes admission to the museum. Don't miss this part off the Oshkosh experience.

Restored Bell 47

A ride in a beautifully restored Bell 47 takes passengers back 50 years in rotor craft history as well as providing a great view of Wittman Airport during Oshkosh activities. The Bells operated almost non-stop from Pioneer Airport at the EAA Museum all week.

Tram Driver Bob Antcliff

Bob Antcliff of Arlington, Texas was one of hundreds of volunteers that makes Oshkosh possible. Bob spent time daily driving a tram around the Oshkosh grounds.

Colorful Ultralight

The ultralight group has its own area and runway at Wittman field. Here a colorful Ultralight makes a circuit of the pattern.

Air Guard KC-135 tanker

A Wisconsin Air Guard KC-135 tanker on display with the new Oshkosh control tower in the background. The KC-135 can tank 200,000 pounds of fuel anywhere in the world in support of military operations.

Cessna 170 Docking at Lake Winnebago

Near Wittman Airport on Lake Winnebago visitors arriving by seaplane are supported at the Oshkosh Seaplane base. Volunteers help dock a Cessna 170 on floats. The Seaplane base is an Oasis of tranquility amidst the noise and hustle of the Oshkosh flightline.

Michael A. Likavec, Contributing Editor & Photographer

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