I’ve been a life-long aviation enthusiast from age 5, piloted sailplanes and motorgliders for 50 years, attending numerous air shows over the years. In August 2014 I spent a week with a friend at the largest air show in the world – AirVenture in Oshkosh Wisconsin. It started with a Disney connection; I donate my time to give personalized historic tours of Disneyland to fans who make donations to Walt’s Barn and Rymanarts. A donor, Shirley Schmidt of Wisconsin, was one of my tour winners. Shirley has the world’s largest Disney small item collection museum in her home. She offered us the chance to enjoy the AirVenture week. I also did a Disney presentation for her guests just prior to AirVenture’s opening day.

Entrance sign to the Oshkosh Wisconsin 2014 Airventure
Entrance sign to the Oshkosh Wisconsin 2014 Airventure
Aerial view of Wittman Field, site of AirVenture - 10,000 airplanes!
Aerial view of Wittman Field, site of AirVenture – 10,000 airplanes!
The daily shows open with a parasail flag and the national anthem
The daily shows open with a parasail flag and the national anthem
Spectators camp out every afternoon for the daily airship
Spectators camp out every afternoon for the daily air show.
The simulated bomb drop is a showbiz feature every year
The simulated bomb drop is a showbiz feature every year
Numerous buildings and shady forests create a delightful scene
Numerous buildings and shady forests create a delightful scene
The Gee Bee QED replica 1934 racer was the crowd favorite
The Gee Bee QED replica 1934 racer was the crowd favorite
This Howard-modified Lockheed 14 is a dramatic late 1940s design
This Howard-modified Lockheed 14 is a dramatic late 1940s design

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Fly-In Convention, now known as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, has been in existence nearly as long as the association itself. The first gathering was in September 1953 as a small part of the Milwaukee (Wis.) Air Pageant. That original EAA fly-in at Wright-Curtiss (now Timmerman) Field was attended by a handful of airplanes, mostly homebuilt and modified aircraft. Fewer than 150 people registered as visitors. The larger Milwaukee Air Pageant has faded away but the EAA gathering has become the world’s premier aviation event.

1927 Travel Air 2000 - totally gorgeous restored biplane
1927 Travel Air 2000 – totally gorgeous restored biplane
This 1920s Fairchild Model 71 is a restored antique beauty
This 1920s Fairchild Model 71 is a restored antique beauty
Ford Trimotor started transcontinental air service with TAT in 1928
Ford Trimotor started transcontinental air service with TAT in 1928
This Ford Trimotor flew passengers every day - note the curtains
This Ford Trimotor flew passengers every day – note the curtains
WWII Grumman Bearcat in the Blue Angels color scheme
WWII Grumman Bearcat in the Blue Angels color scheme
The WWII North American P-51 is still the perfect fighter design
The WWII North American P-51 is still the perfect fighter design
This home-built half size P-51 is turbo-prop powered - so cute!
This home-built half size P-51 is turbo-prop powered – so cute!
Classic nose art on a famed WWII Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Classic nose art on a famed WWII Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
A pair of Vietnam era Douglas AD-1 Skyraider attack bombers
A pair of Vietnam era Douglas AD-1 Skyraider attack bombers
A line of colorful home built sport aviation airplanes
A line of colorful home built sport aviation airplanes
For those amphibian pilots, the Searay can be used on land and water
For those amphibian pilots, the Searay can be used on land and water

EAA’s fly-in grew quickly in its first few years and by the late 1950s it had outgrown the area of the Milwaukee airport it was allowed to use. In 1959, the event moved to Rockford (Ill.) Municipal Airport, where it would stay for the next decade. The “Rockford Years” were where the EAA Fly-In Convention established both its prominence as a homebuilders’ event and its friendly feeling that is retained to this day. During these years, such diverse aviation interests as Warbirds, antiques and aerobatic performers became part of the EAA event.

AirVenture 2014 saw visitors from 69 nations in attendance for the week long event. Attendance was up over 500,000 visitors with over 10,000 aircraft arriving at the Oshkosh Wittman Regional Airport and other airports in the area.

The sexy looking German Autogyro is fast and safe and very popular
The sexy looking German Autogyro is fast and safe and very popular
The single seat Mosquito is a micro-helicopter - beautifully engineered
The single seat Mosquito is a micro-helicopter – beautifully engineered
The Experimental Aircraft Association museum is a must see
The Experimental Aircraft Association museum is a must see
This radical 1939 Bugatti 100 air racer was never completed and flown
This radical 1939 Bugatti 100 air racer was never completed and flown
This Bede 5J is a tiny 360 lb jet, but it goes 300 mph
This Bede 5J is a tiny 360 lb jet, but it goes 300 mph
This Ford Trimotor flew passengers every day at AirVenture
This Ford Trimotor flew passengers every day at AirVenture
A bare bones breezy has been popular for over 50 years
A bare bones breezy has been popular for over 50 years
Wing walking Grumman Agcat started out as an agricultural plane
Wing walking Grumman Agcat started out as an agricultural plane
The Agcat called "showcat" is a big and loud crowd favorite
The Agcat called “showcat” is a big and loud crowd favorite
A Beechcraft 18 executive aircraft can fly aerobatics very easily
A Beechcraft 18 executive aircraft can fly aerobatics very easily
This big Waco biplane is happy to fall upside down and…
This big Waco biplane is happy to fall upside down and…
…and fly sideways too
…and fly sideways too
The Lucas Oil Pitts S-1-11b can perform almost every aerobatic move
The Lucas Oil Pitts S-1-11b can perform almost every aerobatic move
Sean Tucker in his Oracle special is my personal favorite airshow pilot
Sean Tucker in his Oracle special is my personal favorite air show pilot
A squadron of Grumman T-28 Trojans display various service colors
A squadron of Grumman T-28 Trojans display various service colors
The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a fascinating machine to watch
The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a fascinating machine to watch

Among those 10,000 aircraft were: 997 home-built aircraft, 1,050 vintage airplanes, 303 warbirds, 122 ultralights and light-sport aircraft, 91 seaplanes, 40 rotorcraft, 38 aerobatic aircraft, and 8 hot-air balloons. For 51 weeks a year, EAA is an international community of more than 180,000 members that nurtures the spirit of flight through a worldwide network of chapters, outreach programs, and other events.

But for one week each summer, EAA members and aviation enthusiasts attend EAA AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where they rekindle friendships and celebrate the past, present, and future in the world of flight.

The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration has it all when it comes to aircraft. Warbirds. Vintage. Homebuilts. Ultralights. Some you would normally find in a hangar at your local airport, others so unique they are the only one of their kind.

You name it, there’s likely an example of it at Oshkosh. For many, arriving at Oshkosh is a rite of passage that can only be satisfied by being one of the more than 10,000 aircraft flying in, landing at what becomes the busiest airport in the world. Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast or an aviation novice, AirVenture has something for you. No matter what your age, you’ll be entertained, informed, and thrilled by the countless activities available that reflect “The Spirit of Aviation” all around. Daily air shows. Aerobatics and pyrotechnics. Nightly concerts. Feature films at the Fly-In Theater. Forums, workshops, and demonstrations. KidVenture. Special programming at Theater in the Woods. All of this, plus much, much more is included with the daily admission.

Add in the crowd-thrilling, show-stopping Night Air Show on Wednesday and Saturday night, and you have affordable fun for the entire family every day from sunup to well past sundown. There is uniqueness to each AirVenture that keeps lifelong attendees coming back for more. You need to experience it to understand. Luckily, Shirley was able to find us a motel right across the street from the airfield. Over 36,000 folks camped out, many with tents on the grass right next to their parked airplanes. Of course it rained several days, soaking the tent areas, but that’s the American Summer. A couple of sudden big thunderstorms added some drama too.

Thunderbirds - from the bottom
Thunderbirds – from the bottom
Thunderbirds - from the top
Thunderbirds – from the top
A 4-plane pass of L-39ZO Albatros, a very popular European fighter trainer
A 4-plane pass of L-39ZO Albatros, a very popular European fighter trainer
Aeroshell aerobatic team of WWII North American T-6
Aeroshell aerobatic team of WWII North American T-6
Aeroshell aerobatic team of WWII North American T-6 smoking'
Aeroshell aerobatic team of WWII North American T-6 smoking’
Aeroshell aerobatic team in their night flight show
Aeroshell aerobatic team in their night flight show
Aeroshell aerobatic team lighting up the night sky
Aeroshell aerobatic team lighting up the night sky
A helicopter air launches fireworks during the spectacular night airship
A helicopter air launches fireworks during the spectacular night air show.
Showcat puts on the most wild fireworks streaming from his wings
Showcat puts on the most wild fireworks streaming from his wings

Every day we’d get to the airfield by 10 am to wander thru miles of aircraft on display. At 2 pm I’d find a spot to sit and watch the daily air show until near sundown. Several nights we’d return to see the wildly spectacular night show with pyrotechnically equipped planes – a sight we’ll never forget. Oshkosh Airventure is a great chance to meet the wonderful mid-America folks, so friendly and natural. Mom, apple pie, and AirVenture too. The best United States adventure I’ve ever experienced!

 

Previous articleDisney News Round Up: Christmas Time is here!
Next articleDisneyland Paris – A LIVE 3-D Audio Adventure
Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part. Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of "leisure-time spectaculars" and "fantastical beasts" for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan's Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg's motion picture "Jurassic Park." You can find Bob's column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don't pin Bob down to a schedule, he's busy being "retired."
  • Bob, this sounds absolutely amazing!!! The perfect trip for you. And thank you so much for sharing these fantastic images. Shirley certainly knows the way to your heart!

  • Stormy

    Oh man! Hubby and I would love to go to Oshkosh! We’ve been fans of the Reno Air Races for years and Oshkosh just seems to be a ‘must do’ for race fans! Some day the stars will align & we’ll get there!

  • Shelly Valladolid

    Bob:
    Thank you so much for sharing these gorgeous photos with us. I love to fly, and would haunt the Pacific Aviation Museum while it was being built (I worked in the bunker across the street on Ford Island at the time). Just beautiful!
    Fab

  • jl925sanders

    Spectacular photos and excellent commentary! Anyone who looks up when a nearby plane is heard needs to plan a trip to the closest air museum.

  • wmatzner

    Looks like a fantastic show (plus thanks for the wonderful pics, Bob, that show it to us).
    Do they ever have any airshows around Los Angeles anymore? I remember ones at Van Nuys Airport and Point Mugu in the past?