by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2017
OSCEOLA, WIS. – It’s an air show, it’s a car show, it’s a motorcycle show, it’s a fly-in, it’s Wheels & Wings at L.O. Simenstad Municipal Airport in Osceola, Wisconsin!
The highly popular event started as a promotion by Motorbooks International, publishers of automotive and aircraft publications. When Motorbooks closed their Osceola facility, the tenants at the airport, and local businesses and organizations, took over producing the event in which planning begins a year in advance.
The Car and Motorcycle Show is coordinated by Stardust Car Shows, with over 700 entries. Attendees this year were treated to music from the 1950s as they perused the classic and vintage cars, hot rods and rat rods, muscle cars, and motorcycles. A variety of aircraft were also on display, including a Vietnam-era UH1-H “Huey” helicopter owned by Dave Schmitz and hangared at the New Richmond, Wis. airport.
A temporary control tower and ground control controlled approximately 100 airplanes that flew in. The first 75 pilots in command received breakfast at no charge! The airshow featured the Wissota Sky Diving Team; the North American Flight Team “Triple Play,” flying T-6 Texans; the Vanguard Squadron flying three RV-3s; Eric Edgren in his Taylorcraft; Mike Weinfurter in his L-19; and Grant Neilson performing in his CAP 232. Once the air show was over, a “Radar Run” clocked the speed of dozens of cars and trucks as they sped down the runway.
The 2017 Kid Zone included the Imagination Playground. A food and beer garden included several local vendors and merchants. To close out the fly-in, a Golf Ball Drop helped raise money for the Lions Club.
The event is free to the public, thanks to sponsorships by local businesses and civic organizations, including Osceola Aero Sport, Gibson Aviation, Custom Fire, Dick’s Fresh Market, Frontier Ag & Turf, J&S Contracting, Safety Signs, The Sun Newspaper, Osceola Chamber/Mainstreet, the Christian Motorcycle Association, Osceola Community Fair, Village of Osceola, Osceola Public Library, Osceola Area Lions Club, Osceola Boy Scouts, and the Osceola Airport Commission.
As soon as the airport activities were over, some attendees visited downtown Osceola to attend the Osceola Community Bazaar, then closed out their day with a visit to the Osceola Community Fair on the north side of town. The fair is an old fashioned local fair and featured a great band that evening.
Located along the St. Croix River, east of the Twin Cities, Osceola has a lot to offer travelers besides fall colors. Visitors can take a train ride at the Osceola Depot, visit Cascade Falls, hike one of the new trails in town, stroll through the boutique stores, and check out one of the great restaurants with patios to dine outdoors, offering a variety of choices from local fare to Chinese and Mexican.
For those not flying or who are staying overnight, they can enjoy a craft beer on an outdoor patio at a local pub or visit one of the area’s wineries. Canoe rental is available at Riverwood Canoe Rental and Lakeside Country for a paddle on the St. Croix River or visit to Interstate State Park, which straddles the Dalles of the St. Croix River with a deep basalt gorge with glacial potholes and other rock formations. For the more adventuresome, there’s a new zip line at Trollhaugen Ski Resort in nearby Dresser, Wisconsin.
Places to stay include the Pleasant Lake and Lakeside Country bed and breakfasts, and the River Valley and St. Croix River Inns.
Osceola AeroSport has courtesy cars available, including a Mercedes Roadster. Self-Serve 100LL and Jet A is available. For additional information or to reserve a courtesy car in advance, call Richard Johnson at 715-294-4500 (office) or 612-308-0647 (cell).
Learn more about what the Osceola community has to offer at www.wheelswings.com and remember, the Twin Cities with one of the best reliever airport systems in the world, is just 30 miles away.
Watch for the dates for Wheels & Wings 2018 in an upcoming issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine.