EAA AirVenture Draws Aviation Enthusiasts

Jets at EAA

“Osh” is code for not only the Oshkosh, Wisconsin airport but also for the annual aviation celebration called AirVenture, hosted by Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Dubbed “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration,” this year’s event certainly held up to its reputation. The event opened Monday, July 28, and ran through Sunday, Aug. 3. Final visitor counts are still out, but all signs indicate that attendance was up this year with well over a half million visitors.

In case you weren’t at the event, here are a few highlights.

First-timers — the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

While AirVenture has been one of the largest aviation shows, drawing tens of thousands of pilots and aviation enthusiasts from around the world, the USAF Thunderbirds were first-timers this year. The aerobatic box — the area in which the Thunderbirds need to perform — had never been large enough. This year, the crowd line was moved, and AirVenture officials were happy to welcome the Thunderbirds to the show. Seeing six F-16s performing crossover breaks and reflection passes over the Wittman Regional Airport was a special treat.

Honor flight for Vietnam veterans

An honor flight for former Vietnam veterans left Oshkosh Friday morning with over 100 vets headed to Washington, D.C. The vets then returned to a hero’s welcome later that day.

Air shows day and night

Another huge hit was the night air shows, combining superb flying and colorful pyrotechnics in the dark skies over the airfield. The Thunderbirds aside, daily air shows every afternoon gave attendees the opportunity to see skilled pilots performing daring stunts and expert maneuvers. Each air show featured a new performer or innovation, so each one was unique.


Women aviators took center stage on Wednesday for the WomenVenture event. Debbie Travis King, the only woman in the world since 1943 to fly the B-29, was the keynote speaker. Plus, for the first time, a mother performed in the USAF Thunderbirds show. Maj. Caroline Jenson, USAF, called it a “dream come true” to perform at the EAA AirVenture.

One Week Wonder project

Under normal circumstances, it usually takes a while to build a plane, but in Oshkosh volunteers who participated in the One Week Wonder project built a plane in exactly one week. Using a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer kit, donated by Zenith Aircraft Company, and an engine donated by aircraft engine company, Rotax, more than 1,000 volunteers came together to build a plane fit for flying by the end of the week. The project wrapped up on Sunday, Aug. 3, when technicians finished their safety checks and started the plane’s engine.

If you missed this year’s AirVenture, mark your calendar for next year! It was definitely an aviation event worth attending.

Sadly, a plane crash on Thursday at Wittman Field involving James Oeffinger and his passenger, Jennifer Woloszyk, overshadowed the week’s festivities. Oeffinger was killed, and Woloszyk remains in serious condition.

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