AirVenture 2015… New Challenges & Technology For General Aviation

by Jim LaMalfa

I have attended EAA’s annual fly-in with my family since 1972. It was then, and is now, a showcase for everything old, new and yet to come in General Aviation.

In 1972, we visited for a day, then came back to camp in 1973 on what is now the “fly market.” This was the year when air traffic was kept in a holding pattern until the air show ended as a storm front was moving in. As we looked out over Lake Winnebago, we could see landing lights of aircraft stretching out on final for Runway 27, looking like a steady flow of freeway traffic at night. We could hear the controllers advising aircraft landing short and long, simultaneously. There were no accidents, a credit to pilots and controllers. Back then, controllers used to work their vacation time for the privilege of working during AirVenture – at no charge to EAA. Today, EAA must pay the FAA $500,000 a year to cover “travel time” for controllers, one of the challenges I am referring to in the title of this article. Another challenge is the plan to privatize air traffic control and pass the cost on to the aviation community. EAA and AOPA have continually worked to ensure that General Aviation does not get taxed out of existence. All that said, we can now review – and enjoy – some of the educational and fun events that took place at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, July 20-26.

ADS-B In & Out

Our brothers in the nautical world have been using satellite navigation since the 1980s when the U.S. Defense Department first permitted it to be used by civilians. General Aviation began replacing Loran C in the late 1980s with GPS. All ships at sea have coded identifications, three in number, whereas pilots use their aircraft registration numbers and squawk an assigned transponder code to controllers.

In 2014, the FAA published Rule 14 CFR Part 91, which requires all aircraft operating in airspace A, B, C, D and E to have Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B) Out transponders by 2020. Above Flight Level 180, ADS-B In will also be required. Below 2500 feet above ground level (AGL), ADS-B Out will not be required. Aircraft not certified with electrical systems, such as antique aircraft, gliders and hot air balloons, will also be exempt from the rule.

ADS-B Out is when air traffic control can see an aircraft on their equipment… ADS-B In is when the pilot can see other aircraft on their equipment. As most of us know by now, NextGen, or satellite technology, will eventually phase out ground-based radar.

And while ADS-B Out requirements will not go away, the good news is, prices are falling as seen at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and will continue to fall, says Jim Zanino of Bendix King. Refer to the “Pilot’s Guide To Avionics” to learn more about what NextGen avionics are available, names of installation facilities, etc.

The airshow at AirVenture this year featured flybys of all of Burt Rutan’s designs on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, as this was “Burt Rutan Day.” Rutan’s first design, the Vari Viggen, appeared on the cover of Sport Aviation in 1972, but no example was flown at AirVenture 2015. However, the VariEze, now considered an antique, was, as well as a Quickie, Defiant, the Xcor rocket, Long-EZ, Beech Starship, Catbird and Boomerang.

The first record set in one of Rutan’s composite pushers was accomplished in 1975 when Dick Rutan piloted a VariEze from Wittman Regional Airport to Menominee Twin County Airport in Menominee, Michigan, setting a world distance record for aircraft in its weight class. That was the first time I met Burt Rutan, and helped to recruit observers at Enstrom Helicopter in Menominee, Michigan, to verify the flights, which consisted of a continuous loop from Oshkosh to Menominee and back. My son, Larry, and I witnessed history in the making, as aircraft made the turn at Menominee, right before our eyes!

Aircraft On Boeing Plaza

Owned by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, a beautifully restored Avro Lancaster was parked amidst its contemporaries, including a B-17 Flying Fortress featuring insignia from the U.S. Eighth Air Force bomb group used during World War II to destroy Nazi Germany’s industrial infrastructure. Also on display was a Boeing C-47 “That’s All, Brother,” which was found at Basler Flight Service, Oshkosh, Wis., destined to become a Basler Turbo Conversion.

Research revealed that “That’s All, Brother” led a formation of more than 800 aircraft that dropped 13,000 paratroopers behind enemy lines. The aircraft was named “That’s All, Brother” as a personal message to Adolf Hitler that with the Allied invasion of Europe, his plans to take over Europe were over.

After returning from the initial drop of the 101st Airborne Division paratroopers on D-Day, June 6, 1944, “That’s All, Brother” towed a glider to Normandy, carrying essential supplies and troops of the 82nd Airborne Division into the heart of the battle. Parts for many of the gliders, including Waco CG 14 and 16s, were built in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Menominee (fuselages) and Iron Mountain (wings).

“That’s All, Brother” remained on combat status throughout the European campaign, participating in Operation Market Garden, the relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and the crossing of the Rhine River. After the war, the aircraft passed through 16 civilian owners and its story was forgotten until now.

Also on display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh was a Lockheed B-52H Stratofortress from the 307th Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., an aircraft that entered service in 1955 and is still on active duty, today.

World War II British aircraft on display included EAA’s Mosquito and a restored DH-98 Mosquito flown to Oshkosh by the Military Aviation Museum in New Zealand. The “Mossie,” as it was affectionately dubbed, was an all-wood interceptor and ground attack aircraft powered by two Rolls Royce 225 1680 hp engines, which had a top speed of 378 mph. The British warbirds flew during the Thursday, July 23, 2015 airshow.

Airbus returned to AirVenture 2015 with its A350, demonstrating slow flight prior to landing on Monday.

Airbus scheduled the A350 to fly at various U.S. airshows this summer, as it is in competition with Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

A replica 1919 Junkers F13 was parked next to the Airbus A350, and is owned by RIMOWA Flugzeugwerke AG. The aircraft was the first corrugated aluminum single-engine airliner. Ford also built a corrugated aluminum skinned trimotor, and Junkers followed the F13 with the Trimotor 52, used at first by commercial airlines, and then, as a military transport during World War II.

Rotary-Winged Aircraft

Enstrom Helicopter of Menominee, Mich., was present with two models of helicopters on display – the two-place 480B Rolls Royce powered helicopter, and the 480B jet turbine three-place helicopter. Also on display was a seven-place jet-powered Airbus helicopter.

Warbird Interview Circle

A beautifully restored F4U Corsair was on display, as was a P-51 razorback Mustang with a Malcolm Hood Canopy. A Curtiss Helldiver, number 32, was parked just down the line from the Corsairs, and is owned by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF).

Just north of the Naval aircraft sat several North American B-25 Mitchell Bombers, including “Panchito,” bristling with 50 caliber machine guns.

A very rare bomber used for anti-submarine patrol during World War II was a Boeing PB4Y-2, a modified Consolidated B24. The “Privateer,” as it was called, was used for anti-submarine patrol in 1944 and continued in service until 1955. Among the restored World War II vintage trainers at the north end of Wittman Regional Airport were a number of North American AT6 Texans and its predecessor, the Ryan PT22. Also parked in the Warbirds of America tiedown area was a Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, which carried a crew of three.

Civilian Aircraft

Aircraft from Piper, Cirrus, Cessna, and American Champion were much in evidence with large displays of their most popular models.

The Cirrus “Perception” is a sensor-capable special mission aircraft, based on Cirrus’ General 5 SR22/SR22T, which is configured for various applications, such as aerial surveillance. Cirrus also displayed its 6,000th certified aircraft ever built – a gorgeous SR22, distinctively painted in yellow, black and silver. As for progress on certifying the Cirrus SF50  “Vision” personal jet, I was told that it is on schedule, and Cirrus has 500 orders. Pretty exciting stuff!

Champion Aircraft Company is alive and well, as evidenced by its utility class “Scout” and aerobatic “Extreme” on display.

If you want sea level performance at all altitudes, you need to look into the “Turbulence” turbo-powered MP, or install a TP 100 turboprop made by Dimech Turbine Solution, Inc. I’ve seen them installed in Super Cubs!

I.C.P Aviation displayed its diminutive light sport aircraft, “Savannah S.”

Arion Aircraft displayed its light sport aircraft, “Lightning,” which is available ready to fly or as a kit.

Kit Aircraft

RANS aircraft displayed its S-7S “Courier” and BD displayed the aluminum fuselage for a BD-4X folding wing, towable homebuilt. Zenith displayed a CH 750 “Cruzer,” featuring a quick-build kit.

Every field of human endeavor is subject to changes and challenges and private aviation is no exception. Organizations, such as EAA and AOPA, are there to help and educate us. Attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh every summer is just plain FUN, and I encourage you to join me in 2016!

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This entry was posted in All Features, EAA & AirVenture, Features, October/November 2015 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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