Every year the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) brings together a cornucopia of aircraft to attract the thousands of visitors who spend a week in Oshkosh, Wis., at the annual AirVenture extravaganza. This year, EAA has upped its game, although visitors will have to take a brief bus ride over to the EAA seaplane base on Lake Winnebago to get a close look at the marvelous, massive Martin Mars flying boat during the show, which takes place from July 25 to 31. The Mars will also fly during the daily afternoon airshows on July 25, 27, 29 and 30 (night show only).
“There aren’t many airplanes that have never been to Oshkosh, but this is one of them, so this is both literally and figuratively a huge addition to this year’s lineup,” said Rick Larsen, EAA vice president of communities and member programs. “Among flying boats, only the legendary Spruce Goose is bigger, but the Martin Mars is the largest ever to be operational.”
The Martin Mars is a true flying boat, with a 200-foot wingspan, nearly the same as that of a 747, and it can land only on water. The one being flown to Oshkosh is the last flying Mars in the world, one of six built in the 1940s as a Navy troop and freight transport. Flown as a water bomber from 2007 until last year, the Hawaii Mars is owned by Coulsen Flying Tankers of Port Alberni, British Columbia.
“This is the last flying Mars in the world and the largest warbird ever built,” said Wayne Coulson, CEO of Coulson Flying Tankers. “There isn’t a better aviators’ venue than EAA AirVenture, so it’s an honor to be part of this world-class event. We’re excited to bring the Hawaii Mars to Oshkosh as we look for new opportunities and host potential clients, as well as showcase this magnificent airplane’s capabilities.”
A gathering of the aircraft of Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield brings back many of the aircraft that participated in the 1991 Oshkosh show 25 years ago. These include the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Warthog and F/A-18 Hornet and support aircraft such as the KC-135, EA-6B and C-5M. The afternoon airshows on July 29 through 31 will also feature the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team.
The airshow roster is already full, from Luca Bertossio’s Swift S-1 glider aerobatics to the GoPro Bomb Squad and John Klatt’s Screamin’ Sasquatch and much more, including night airshows on Wednesday July 27 and Saturday July 30 with fireworks and the famous Oshkosh Wall of Fire.
Business Aviation Element
EAA AirVenture has never been a big business aviation show, but there are plenty of products for that crowd and a growing number of OEMs serving the turboprop and light jet owner-pilot market. This year, Honda Aircraft, a longtime exhibitor, comes to the show with the FAA- and EASA-certified HondaJet. Embraer and Textron Aviation are long-time exhibitors, too, and will bring plenty of examples of their aircraft to the show. One new item at the Textron exhibit will be the cabin mockup for its single-engine turboprop (SETP), which will be powered by a 1,240-shp GE Aviation engine. The T-tail SETP will carry seven to 11 people and fly at a maximum speed of 285 knots and offer range of 1,600 nm. Introductory price is $4.5 million, and Textron Aviation is expected to reveal the new turboprop’s official name at AirVenture.
Innova Aerospace, the new owner of Sierra Industries and Sabreliner Aviation, among other aviation companies, is flying two modified King Air 90s to Oshkosh, both outfitted with BendixKing’s new AeroVue flight deck. One of the King Airs will also be equipped with new engines, and more will be revealed about those at the show. Innova is also developing an AeroVue upgrade for the Citation 560.
Because so many people from all walks of aviation gather yearly at AirVenture, EAA has expanded the show’s job fair to cover the entire week. The job fair will open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day at the Aviation Gateway Park, which showcases education, innovation and technology. Career services company JSfirm is assisting with the AirVenture job fair and will promote opportunities during the show.
“There are so many job opportunities in the industry right now and we’re pleased to support EAA’s efforts to match people and aviation jobs at AirVenture,” said Abbey Hutter, marketing coordinator for JSfirm. “We stand firmly behind EAA’s dedication and mission to growing participation in aviation, whether it’s through recreational flying or as a career.”
Boeing is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and bringing a collection of airplanes to the show’s main ramp, this year named Boeing Centennial Plaza. The Boeing fleet will include a Cathay Pacific 747-8 on July 30 (Boeing Day at Oshkosh), a B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress, an Alaska Airlines 737-800 participating in WomenVenture Day on July 27 and a gathering of Stearmans (which were also part of Boeing’s history).
The first official day of AirVenture, Monday July 25, always kicks off with an evening concert sponsored by Ford, and this year’s band, playing on a huge stage erected on Boeing Centennial Plaza, will be Third Eye Blind, the creators of songs such as “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper,” “How’s It Going To Be” and “Never Let You Go.”
For those flying into Oshkosh Wittman Regional Airport, close study of the Oshkosh Notam is important, and it can be found on the EAA website (www.eaa.org).