EAA AirVenture Oshkosh – Better With Age

by Dave Weiman

The way an event like EAA AirVenture Oshkosh keeps getting better and better each year is with a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work and creative thinking on the part of the staff at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA); cooperation from thousands of people, including volunteers, vendors and the media; and innovation from people who think outside the box. It’s a time to see old friends and meet new ones…to introduce our children and grand children to the marvels and excitement that attracted us to aviation…to explore new products and services and make purchases…and to reflect on the past, and look forward to the future. Here are some of the activities we covered at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, as EAA celebrated its 63rd annual fly-in convention, July 20-26 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Peggy and I arrived in Camp Scholler the Friday before Monday’s opener to set up camp, and to prepare for the week ahead. Once in our trailer, we spent several hours going over the program, press releases and records to plan our daily schedules. We knew what things had to be done, and what we wanted to do for fun!

Bob Hoover Makes Special Appearance

We always look forward to seeing those people who have made many contributions to aviation, such as Jack Pelton, who continues to volunteer his time as chairman of EAA; aircraft designer and builder, Burt Rutan, who challenges all of us to be the best we can at whatever we do in aviation; Sean D. Tucker – another person who donates countless hours to EAA as the chairman of EAA Young Eagles, and as an airshow performer; and of course aviation icon, Robert A. “Bob” Hoover.

This year, Hoover, 93, was promoting a new documentary on his life called “Flying the Feathered Edge: The Bob Hoover Project.” The film was previewed on Sunday, July 19 in the EAA Fly-In Theater, sponsored by Ford Motor Company. Special thanks to Ford for sponsoring this venue, as well as for its support of the outdoor concerts on Boeing Plaza, and of course, Boeing for sponsoring the plaza  where we all gathered to see the B-52H Stratofortress, B-29 Superfortress “FiFi,” Airbus A350, C-47 “That’s All, Brother,” F-22 Raptor, and F-35A Lightning II.

Director and producer, Kim Furst, and Sean D. Tucker, joined Hoover on stage to introduce the film to those in attendance.

In this inspiring 86-minute film, Hoover tells his life story as an Air Force fighter pilot, experimental test pilot, and airshow performer. The film features conversations with pilot/actor Harrison Ford and Tucker, with appearances by Neil Armstrong, Carroll Shelby, Dick and Burt Rutan, Clay Lacy and other aviation notables.

Burt Rutan Back Building Radio Control Airplanes

Speaking of Burt Rutan, he is back to building model airplanes, and has a new company, “RutanRC.” The company is developing a series of radio control model aircraft based on the innovative designs of Burt Rutan. Plans are to create and market the aircraft beginning with the Ansari XPrize-winning White Knight and SpaceShipOne, then add other designs that could include the Ares, Boomerang, LongEZ, the canard motor glider Solitaire, Voyager, Defiant, and Catbird – even his yet-to-be-seen latest design, the SkiGull.

Leading the company are Dan Kreigh, who worked with Rutan as an engineer at Scaled Composites, and Jeff Corsiglia, who led research and development for AirHogs, creating such firsts as HELIX +4, SharpShooter, and other RC hits. Rutan will be an adviser on design and functionality, as well as an ongoing source of innovation.

The model airplanes will retail for $299. Product delivery is projected for November 2015. Contact the company directly at www.RutanRC.com.

ICON Donates First A5 To EAA Young Eagles

ICON donated its first A5 Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA) amphibian to receive an airworthiness certificate to EAA Young Eagles to be auctioned off at the Gathering of Eagles fundraiser at EAA AirVenture 2016. EAA Young Eagles Chairman Sean D. Tucker and EAA Chairman Jack Pelton accepted the aircraft on behalf of the program from ICON CEO Kirk Hawkins at ceremonies held July 20, 2015 during AirVenture.

Gathering of Eagles Fundraiser

On Thursday, July 23, 2015, EAA Chairman Jack Pelton introduced the crew of Apollo 13 – Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Milton Windler, and Bill Reeves – at the annual Gathering of Eagles event held in the Eagle Hangar at the EAA AirVenture Museum. One thousand aviators and aviation enthusiasts attended.

Auctioned off was a one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang, with a design inspired by the Apollo 13 mission and crew, which sold for $230,000. Two other unique auction lots, an Alaskan Adventure donated by ConocoPhillips, and a flight experience with Red Bull Helicopter pilot, Chuck Aaron, each had winning bids of $50,000. In all, $2.2 million was raised for EAA youth educational programs. Aaron is retiring from performing his Red Bull Helicopter aerobatic routine at the end of the 2015 season to spend more time with his family.

In addition, on August 6, 2015, it was announced that Ken Regalado of Rochester, Michigan, won the grand prize from this year’s Young Eagles raffle: a red 2015 Ford Mustang GT convertible, donated by the Ford Motor Company and Kocourek Ford of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Apollo 13 Mission Remembered

EAA commemorated the 45th anniversary of Apollo 13, Wednesday, July 22 in Theater in the Woods. Appearing on stage was flight director Gene Kranz, astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, and other team members from what was called a successful failure of the aborted moon mission. David Hartman hosted the program.

F-35 Lightning Arrival Show

All eyes looked toward the sky when the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning arrived during the afternoon air show on Wednesday, July 22. Other acts included an impressive demonstration by an Airbus A350; the Patriot Parachute Team (former Navy SEALs); Patty Wagstaff (Extra 300L); Warbirds of America’s 70th Anniversary Victory In The Pacific performance featuring Tora Tora Tora and the Texas Flying Legends; Eagles Skydiving Team (108 jumpers); U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor demo, plus its Heritage Flight with a P-38 and P-51.

At the airshow, the Eagles Over Oshkosh Skydiving Team made a three-point skydive on its first record attempt over AirVenture. Unfortunately, there was a mis-grip on the second point and the FAI judges couldn’t award a world record. However, the skydivers did set a new Wisconsin large skydiving formation record with 108 of the world’s best skydivers from 15 nations and 23 states. The previous state record was a 30-way formation set in 2011. Through this exposure at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame was able to broadcast its world-class activities to hundreds of thousands of aviation enthusiasts.

Rockwell Collins Night Air Show

The Rockwell Collins Night Air Show took place both Wednesday and Saturday night. Featured acts included the Goodyear Airship Wingfoot One; Eagles Skydiving Team (108 jumpers); AeroShell Aerobatic Team (T-6s); Luca Bertossio (Swift S-1 glider); John Moody (EZ Riser); Bob Carlton (SubSonex JSX-2 jet); Paul Stender (Jet School Bus); Julie Clark (T-34); Jerry Kerby (RV-8); Gene Soucy (Firecat); and Matt Younkin (Twin Beech). The show closed with fireworks and the Wall of Fire.

Dick Rutan Shares Flying Experiences With Flying Rotarians

The International Flying Rotarians celebrated their 50th anniversary at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, followed by a 10,000 Lakes Fly-Out to Minnesota. On Thursday, July 23, 2015 at Oshkosh, the group held a luncheon with guest speaker, Dick Rutan, who shared some of his experiences growing up with his younger brother, Burt; his career in the Air Force; and his non-stop, round-the-world flight with Jeana Yeager in “Voyager.”

Rutan flew 325 missions in Vietnam, and on his 105th mission, his North American F-100D Super Sabre was hit. Rather than eject right away, he put the Sabre into afterburner so he could make the coast before running out of fuel. When Rutan finally ejected, American forces were there to pick him up right away. He ejected from another aircraft – this time over England – when his aircraft experienced an engine failure.

Rutan was awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals, and a Purple Heart during his Air Force career.

Something Rutan’s mother told her two sons stuck with them throughout life: “If you can dream it, you can do it, and you only fail if you quit.”

So after years dreaming of flying around the world nonstop, Dick Rutan did just that when he built “Voyager” with his life savings and he and Jeana Yeager took off from Edwards Air Force Base on December 14, 1986.

Rutan and Yeager did not have a predetermined route, but rather flew in a westerly direction for 26,366 statute miles at an average altitude of 11,000 feet. Rutan said they avoided Vietnam and some other unfriendly countries, and after flying over Kenya airspace, they were ordered to return and land, but kept on going.

The flight ended 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds later back at Edwards Air Force Base on December 23, setting a flight endurance record. The flight also broke a previous flight distance record set by a U.S. Air Force crew flying a Boeing B-52 that flew 12,532 miles in 1962.

When Rutan and Yeager landed at Edwards, they only had 18 gallons of fuel remaining, which was one-half of 1% of the total fuel they had on takeoff.

Following the flight, Rutan and Yeager had dinner at the White House with President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, and Voyager went to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, where it remains on display to this day.

Rutan remained active as a pilot, but in 1992, he ran as a Republican against Democratic Congressman George Brown, Jr. in California’s 42nd Congressional District. Rutan ran on a platform that called for reforming Congress and lowering taxes. Brown prevailed with 79,780 votes (50.7%) against Rutan’s 69,251 votes (44%). Fritz Ward, a Libertarian, received 8,424 votes (5.3%).

The Rutan family is originally from France and came to America through England to reach the new world. They made that voyage on the “Mayflower” in the 1600s, settling in Pennsylvania.

Meet The FAA Administrator Forum

A year after announcing steps being taken to revise third-class medical certification requirements, no specific proposal has yet been developed, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told the audience at the annual Meet The FAA Administrator session at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Thursday, July 23.

“The pilot’s perspective is not the only perspective, and we need to keep this conversation going,” said Huerta. “We have talked to DOT, we have been working with Congress…what we want is a lasting policy.”

Huerta went on to discuss FAA’s efforts to incorporate drones into the National Airspace System with an influx of non-aviation people participating.

In talking about the modernization of the air traffic control system, Huerta asked the crowd, “What do we want? How do we set priorities? How do we pay for it?”

Coffee & Donuts At AOPA Pavilio

A lot of AOPA members showed up at the AOPA Pavilion for coffee and donuts on Friday, July 24, 2015 for an excellent town hall meeting. Featured speakers included AOPA President & CEO Mark Baker; Vice President of Communications, Katie Pribyl; and Senior Vice President For Government Affairs, Melissa Rudinger. U.S. Senator James Inhoff was a special guest, and discussed briefly the Pilot’s Bill of Rights II amendment to the Transportation Bill.

Baker opened the meeting by discussing the issues that concerns AOPA the most, such as third class medical reform, building the pilot population through such initiatives as the Rusty Pilot Program, and trying to lower the cost of flying by helping to establish flying clubs, and encouraging clubs to buy old, but rebuilt aircraft, like Yingling Aircraft’s remanufactured Cessna 172 Skyhawks.

Baker said that AOPA’s regional fly-ins are a success, with between 2,000 to 3,000 people attending each, and 500 to 600 aircraft flying in.

Pribyl discussed AOPA’s Flying Club Network and Flying Club Finder, the organization’s Airport Support Network, Member Assistance Hotline, and the high school STEM program. AOPA hopes to build aviation programs in high schools, similar to the Future Farmers of America club concept.

Rudinger addressed “NextGen” and the ADS-B requirement for 2020. She said that AOPA is looking at lowering the average price point to equip an aircraft from the $6,000 to $8,000 it was in 2010, to $2,000 per aircraft. To accomplish this, AOPA got avionics manufacturers to work in this direction, and in the 8 months since, the price appears to be going down.

Rudinger also discussed Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and what they mean to the manned aircraft community. She said the proposed rule does not restrict access or require equipment for GA aircraft. “Recreational (UAS) operators is where the problem is, not commercial,” said Rudinger. “We think education is the way to go. Any entry into aviation is a good thing.” Rudinger said there are 200,000 drones being sold per month.

EAA & AOPA Fire Back At Airline Pilots Union

After years of work on the part of General Aviation organizations and their members to convince the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress to change third class medical requirements, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate urging them to reject an amendment to a transportation bill offered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) that would reform the requirements.

The Experimental Aircraft Association and Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association fired back July 25, 2015 during AirVenture with letters of their own, pointing out to Congress the many false and unsubstantiated claims made by ALPA. This was the first time ALPA has expressed any position regarding the bipartisan congressional effort that EAA and AOPA has spearheaded for the past four years, and it is believed the organization did so for political posturing.

“It isn’t about safety, as ALPA claims, as much as scoring political points,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. Pelton urged current and past ALPA members who also fly recreationally to let their union know they object to the organization’s letter.

FAA rulemaking is currently stalled in the Department of Transportation, and the Pilot’s Bill of Rights II developed by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), and now the Manchin-Boozman Amendment to the transportation bill in the Senate, are in the works!

GA pilots are urged to contact their U.S. Congressmen and urge the passing of the bill.

Airshow Pays Tribute To Vietnam

The airshow on Friday, July 24, 2015, featured rare aircraft that fought in the Vietnam War and a mock air battle. Other performances included the Goodyear Airship “Wingfoot One;” Nicolas Ivanoff (Edge); Eagles Skydiving Team (108 jumpers); Stearman Formation; Vicky Benzing (Stearman); AeroShell Aerobatic Team (T-6s); Peter Davies (Calidus Autogyro); Greg Koontz/Alabama Boys (Piper J-3 Cub); Mike Goulian (Extra 330SC); Jeff Boerboon (Sasquatch); Team Aerostars (Yak 52 formation); and Warbirds of America’s Vietnam reenactment.

Old Glory Honor Flight Arrival

Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight III operated by Old Glory Honor Flight is a one-time opportunity for Vietnam veterans to visit, at no cost to them, the memorials in Washington D.C. that were built to honor their service and recognize their many sacrifices. The Honor Flight during AirVenture departed Oshkosh the morning of Friday, July 24 and returned that evening. Among the veterans onboard was retired Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics Director Bob Kunkel.

Foreflight & Appareo’s Stratus 1S & 2S

With continuous updates from Foreflight Mobile, and in their partnering with Appareo Systems, it is no wonder their booths were among the most popular during AirVenture.

The Stratus 1S and 2S portable devices from Appareo give pilots easy situational awareness for a fair price. The devices are pocket-sized wireless receivers that sit on the dash of your airplane. Through your iPad, you get subscription-free weather, GPS information, back-up attitude and ADS-B traffic – all integrated with ForeFlight Mobile. The Stratus 1S and 2S sell for $549.00 and $899.00 respectively (www.appareo.com), and can be ordered through Sporty’s Pilot Shop. The devices were a sell-out not once, not twice, but at least three times during AirVenture.

Aviation Gateway Park

A brand-new neighborhood of flight called “Aviation Gateway Park” sponsored by Piper Aircraft brought together imagination, ingenuity, and possibilities in one area on James Ray Boulevard, just northwest of the FAA control tower.

“Aviation Gateway Park and its four different venues introduces exciting flight innovations, new technology, and aviation-based start-up companies,” said Dave Chaimson, EAA’s vice president of marketing and business development. “Through all its activities, it offers numerous ways to engage with aviation ranging from hands-on experiences to career exploration.”

Aviation Gateway Park is an innovation center, presented by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). World-class organizations such as NASA’s special 100th anniversary activities, SLS/Orion, Lockheed Martin (with its F-35 simulator), Terrafugia’s flying car, the “Drone Cage” presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Education/Career Center with more than 25 university aviation programs and airline representatives, Forums Area sponsored by NATCA, and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh AeroInnovate program that features five innovative start-up aerospace companies, made the park a great addition to the fly-in.

New Exhibits At EAA AirVenture Museum

A trip to AirVenture would not be complete without a visit to the EAA AirVenture Museum, where “Wood and Canvas,” the World War I aviation art of James Dietz, was debuted.

Through his meticulous attention to detail, Dietz provides each scene with historical accurate aircraft, vehicles, settings, and insignia. This exhibition of 41 images highlights his extensive work with World War I aviation that is commemorating its 100th anniversary. The exhibit is open in the museum’s Gorman/Hansen Gallery through December 2015.

Also at the EAA AirVenture Museum is a new exhibit about one of the most distinguished bomb groups of World War II, the 345th Bombardment Group “Air Apaches.” The 345th helped develop the technique of low-level bombing and strafing in the Pacific Theater. Their heavily armed B-25 Mitchell Bombers blazed a trail from Australia north to the Japanese home islands. Artifacts and videos tell the stories of the brave crews who flew these unforgiving treetop-level missions. A special area honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

EAA Elects New Board of Directors

Six Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) members were elected to join the organization’s 33-member board of directors to represent EAA’s 190,000 members. The election was held at the annual EAA membership meeting on July 22, 2015, during AirVenture.

A new addition to the board is Lou Seno (EAA 31489) of Harbor Springs, Michigan. He is Vice President of Corporate Relations and Government Affairs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida. In addition to his leadership role at Embry-Riddle, Seno is Chairman Emeritus of Jet Support Services Inc. (JSSI), and serves on the board of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). He has attended the EAA fly-in convention annually for more than 60 years and has worked with Embry-Riddle since 2001. He will serve a three-year term on the board.

EAA directors re-elected to the board include:
• Joe Brown of Piqua, Ohio (EAA 795555)
• Barry Davis of Carrollton, Georgia (EAA Lifetime 389226)
• Darren Pleasance of Bend, Oregon (EAA 582487)
• Dan Schwinn of Melbourne, Florida (EAA 360170)
• Alan Shackleton of Sugar Grove, Illinois (EAA Lifetime 189346)

All re-elected members will also serve three-year terms.

For information on EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, refer to www.eaa.org/airventure, and be sure to read future issues of EAA Sport Aviation and Midwest Flyer Magazine (www.midwestflyer.com).

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