Last year, I finally scratched off a bucket list item when I descended into EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. I joined a remarkable 650,000 people in a celebration about all things aviation. The planes were even more majestic than the sheer size of the whole event. Last year, I was there just for the final weekend, after so many epic aircraft had gone home. That weekend also just wasn’t long enough to see everything. That’s how big AirVenture is! Well, this year, I’m going back and staying for the whole event. And this year, AirVenture has some fantastic treats for aviation geeks.
Oshkosh, Wisconsin holds a special place in my heart. I married my wife in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Aviation Museum surrounded by some magnificent aviation history. I could not have asked for a better venue or for cooler people to show up. But the EAA grounds are far more than the location I tied the knot, but the destination for hundreds of thousands of aviation fans every single year. After having been to a bunch of trade shows last year and this year, I can say that even the nation’s largest RV shows have nothing on the greatest air show on Earth.
I mean, let’s just start with the massive footprint of AirVenture. Each year, the show takes place at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. Now, EAA’s map doesn’t give you a good sense of scale, but here it is for reference:
See what I mean? Much of the show runs parallel to runway 18R/36L, which runs a long 8,002 feet. At the other end of the airport, you have runway 9/27, which runs 6,179 feet. If you were to walk the entire length of the show as I did, you will be walking a lot of miles a day. In other words, if you’re the kind of person who likes getting steps in, AirVenture is absolutely the place for you.
If knowing that the runways are over a mile long doesn’t quite illustrate the size of the event, consider that Wittman Regional Airport has serviced countless aircraft including the Airbus A380, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the Boeing 747, and the Concorde. That’s an outstanding setlist of planes right there!
Looking back at last year’s AirVenture, my mind is still boggled by the mammoth scale of the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy brought in by the United States Air Force.
I was also taken aback by the gorgeous vintage aircraft on display and all of them had stories to tell. I got to take a ride in a Ford Tri-Motor, watch the Opener Blackfly buzz around like an insect, and military jets crack through the sky creating noises that sounds like the jets were splitting air apart.
I saw so much more and it was all on the final weekend days when many of the epic aircraft from the show already went home. Well, I’m happy to report that this time, I’ll be there for the whole show, catching everything with my very own eyes.
EAA AirVenture 2022 had a record 650,000 visitors and over 10,000 aircraft on the grounds and flying around the area. Of that number 3,226 were showplanes. EAA also recorded 12,000 campsites in use, accounting for about 40,000 of the total attendance. Attendees came from far and wide, with 92 countries being represented by people. To give you a sense of the scale, AirVenture is easily twice the size of the famed 114-year-old Paris Air Show.
Speaking of all-star aircraft, this year is set to get even more fantastic flying machinery. Here’s a peek at what I’ll be checking out:
NASA Super Guppy
Monday-Wednesday, July 24-26, Boeing Plaza: NASA Super Guppy parked on Boeing Plaza. This unique cargo airplane carries large spaceship parts from location to location. The airplane will also carry a full-size test article of the Orion space capsule.
Lockheed C-121A Constellation
The recently restored Lockheed C-121A Constellation ‘Bataan’, owned by Air Legends Foundation, will be making the trip to Oshkosh this year for EAA AirVenture 2023. In June, the Connie made its first post-restoration flight out of Chino Airport in California. Bataan’s appearance at AirVenture will mark the first time a Connie, either in its military or civilian airline configuration, has attended Oshkosh since the mid-2000s.
‘Bataan’ is expected to arrive at AirVenture 2023 during the air show on Monday, July 24, and depart during the air show on Friday, July 28.
Piper L-4 Cub Rosie the Rocketer
A historic fabric-covered Piper L-4 Cub, nicknamed Rosie the Rocketer, which had some of the most fascinating exploits of any small aircraft during World War II, will be part of this year’s warbirds display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023.
The airplane became famous during the war when Maj. Charles Carpenter attached six bazookas to the aircraft and began attacking German tanks and armor while assigned to General Patton’s 3rd Army. “Bazooka Charlie,” as Carpenter became known, had multiple documented armor kills and the aircraft was preserved with its original bullet holes and other battle scars. The L-4 was found in Austria in 2017 and restored to flying condition by Colin Powers in late 2020. It is currently owned by the Collings Foundation of Stow, Massachusetts.
Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter ‘Dreamlifter’
The Dreamlifter is a unique tool developed by Boeing with Evergreen.
This family of four specially modified 747s transports the large 787 fuselage sections and other structures from our partners’ locations around the world to our final assembly sites in Everett, Wash. and North Charleston, SC.
Boeing Plaza will be packed full of aircraft on static display, including one of the Boeing Dreamlifters, an extensively modified 747-400 used to transport 787 Dreamliner parts between various worldwide suppliers. Be sure to check out Boeing Plaza throughout the week as different aircraft rotate in and out.
Normally, I’d give you some history on these planes, but that’s for later!
In addition to the rockstar aircraft lineup, EAA AirVenture 2023 honors a number of anniversaries. This year marks EAA’s 70 years of existence, 70 years of the famous Fly-In, and 50 years since the end of combat in the Vietnam War. So, this year is going to be absolutely incredible for sure.
I plan to have an Autopian meetup on Saturday, July 29 outside of the event, so stay tuned for updates on that.
The event runs from July 24 to 30. Daily tickets are $43 if you’re an EAA member or $61 if you’re just visiting. Come on Sunday and it’s just $20 or $25, respectively. There are also multiple-day tickets that lower the daily cost, such as the two-day ticket available to just non-members for $98. There is a campground there, and that’s where you’ll find me for the whole week of the event. Look for a brown and white travel trailer with “Adirondack” on its sides.
(Top Image: NASA)
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