The Very Best (And Worst) of Oshkosh 2004! (Part Four)
Compiled By The Staff and Readership of the Aero-News
For quite a while, we
have recognized the highs and lows inherent in the general and
sport aviation community. There are but a few places where that is
more a propos than at a major event like the Oshkosh Fly-In.
It's hard to know what really is going to make a difference and
what really qualifies as exceptional unless you've been watching
this industry carefully for several years... as we have.
Unlike past years, ANN readers remarks were heavily incorporated
into ALL aspects of this report, and not just the Aircraft awards
and such. Their contributions are specifically noted when a
particular attribute is based primarily on an individual's
Our Annual Best Plane of the Year Selections (tentatively
announced after Oshkosh and finalized at year's end) will follow
this series shortly… we're having a REALLY hard time making
a decision this year - and the reasons might surprise you.
So... here are our picks for the Best and Worst of this year's
Oshkosh... and why we think so:
"Ya Gotta Be Kidding" Award
NO V-22 At Oshkosh… The USMC and USAF
expect us to support the $80 million-a-pop (and "pop" is just one
of the many sounds you don't want it to make) Osprey, and they
don't even bring the sucker to Oshkosh. (Kevin O'Brien)
Exercises In Futility 2004
Aircraft. With a much-delayed TC now in hand, it appears
that Liberty has hit the wall in earning its production
certificate. With a promising airplane, but increasingly erratic
management, this could have been one of the industry's slam-dunk
success stories… but the BS emanating from the front office
is killing the credibility of the company and casting aspersions on
what would have otherwise been a great aircraft.
- Runner(s)-Up: Europa Aircraft. The
know-nothing, say-nothing position this company took at Oshkosh
(after reports of their European 'bankruptcy') was both
counter-productive as well as worrisome. There were people all over
the country calling ANN to see what was up because they couldn't
get a straight answer from the company that built their airplanes.
- Runner(s)-Up: Wes Oleszewski's futile attempt
to launch his new Klyde Morris book at the show (EAA's loss is
going to be AOPA's gain). I swear the self-important lady that
apportions space in the NON-crowded exhibit buildings and those who
run Author's Corner, had their minions hang up a "Wes-Many-Letters"
wanted poster just like the ones Sun-n-Fun has of Jim.
ALL The Right Moves
EAA's Dick Knapinski. We can't say enough good
things about this guy. Despite the fact that EAA has often had to
bear the brunt of our editorial scrutiny and not always done well,
Knapinski has always been a positive, thoughtful and wholly honest
spokesman for EAA. I don't know of any EAA staffer who has done
more for the organization and been so universally easy to deal
with. Dick is a classy guy and if you'll forgive the fact that he's
the guy who introduced ANN's Jim Campbell to the charms of
Leinenkuegel (and single-handedly improved the economic fortunes of
Wisconsin), he's a pretty cool guy.
"Best Actor" Award
Harrison Ford. This guy did a great job of
playing the part of a man who was deeply in love with aviation and
of seeing the kinds of the world get a chance to see it first-hand.
OK… so it wasn't an act… but it sure was a great
performance to witness. Welcome to the fold, Harrison!
- Runner(s)-Up: Sun 'n Fun's John
Burton... who made a big show of smiling and saying hello
to ANN's Jim Campbell (at Oshkosh) while people were watching...
but is a big part of the SnF crew who has been trying to squelch
his editorial work and has been bad-mouthing him far and wide. A
pretty sleezy act, in our opinion.
Worst Idea At Oshkosh 2004
everyone on the Sport Pilot medical (true, this was the
week before Oshkosh).
- Runner(s)-Up: FAA Again. For promising they
were ready to correct their blundering on the LOA/LOOA issue
(without ever really admitting they blundered), they managed to
screw it up more. "T-37? How could we have given you an LOA for a
T-37? There's no such thing!" an FAA "expert" told one frustrated
jet warbird pilot.
- Runner(s)-Up: FAA Administrator Marion
Blakey.. who told Oshkosh-ers, "The President really
wishes he was here." Can you imagine holding an airshow without
airplanes? Cause you would be smack-dab in the middle of the 30nm
peasants-shan't-fly-zone that follows leading politicians around. I
support the President, but I don't want him anywhere near me while
this TFR madness reigns. (Kevin O'Brien)
- Runner(s)-Up: Monday. Many an ANN reader noted
that the last day, Monday, is a total waste. Nearly every booth is
closing up shop and gone by 1300. The show really ends on Sunday,
so no one is sure why Monday is still considered an airshow
Mike Melvill. Mind you, we're not suggesting
that they did not take every step possible to mitigate risk, but
risk there is when you travel into space. Of course, Mike was ready
to strap on the Air Force's funky Pulse Detonation Engine and fly
it last year, and compared to that, SpaceShipOne seems like mature
technology. Benign, even.
Biggest Oshkosh 2004 Blunder
Cops. ANN Reader Gilbert P. tells ANN that, "I flew my
airplane into OSH on Saturday, July 24th and camped under the wing
in the Classic/Antique area. About Tuesday a security person came
around and wanted to know how I got my cooler, that was under the
airplane, into the grounds without a security pass. I looked at him
dumbfounded and then told him it came it the same way I came in-in
the airplane. He then handed me an orange cooler pass that said the
cooler had to remain in the campsite and the sticker must be
affixed to it. We all know this has nothing to do with security.
The issue was the farm that is adjacent to the Ultra-lite area that
was selling ice for $1.50 vs. $2.25 at the Hangar Cafe and bottled
water for $1.00 vs. $2.00 elsewhere. I really resent EAA using
security as an excuse for money grubbing. They even stopped my son
from coming from Camp Scholler into the grounds with sandwiches
made in his camper."
- Runner(s)-Up: Crass Commercialism. ANN Reader
Gilbert P. also tells ANN that, "I noticed that many of the
traditional vendors of used aircraft parts and hardware were
missing from the Fly Market. They were replaced vendors selling
cheap jewelry, shoe orthotics, recliners, back massagers etc. Oh
and you could also by a tractor, a cement mixer, a $1.5 Million RV
(not one of Van's) or a Ford car. More and more space seems to be
going to vendors other than airplane. If I want to buy a tractor I
will attend a tractor show. If I want to buy a car I will visit a
car show and if I want an RV Camper I will attend an RV show. I
want to look at airplanes and airplane stuff when I go to an
airplane show. After a quick trip through all of the commercial
areas I confined myself to looking at airplanes and talking to
their owners. I made it a point to buy absolutely only what I
needed to eat and nothing for my airplane."
This year I did not even buy gasoline at OSH for the airplane, I
flew down to FDL and refueled. The volunteers were great, the food
boring, the airshow was great and visiting with the people was
great. The commercialization sucked."
- Runner(s)-Up: Crass Commercialism Part
II. ANN Reader David also tells ANN that, "I don't
like the way the Fly-Market is turning into a preponderance of
t-shirt and other non-aviation related booths."
That the two pax in the second qualifying XPrize flight will be
Young Eagles or Chuck Yeager and a bottle of Jack
Biggest Party Pooper
Who asked Mother Nature for all that rain? Not us! At least
she let up enough for the afternoon airshow, but at least one ANN
staffer could have done without walking around wearing an
over-sized trashbag to stay dry. Of Course, even a wet day at
Oshkosh beats a sunny day at work.
Bozo Of The Week
(Rant Mode "On") Yup… he's STILL at it.
Ultralight Aviation's Ever-Present Clown/Part-Time Rip-Off
Artist, Chuck Slusarczyk of CGS Aviation (Repeat Award).
Every time we go to these events, this clown parades around this
silly "Zoom Free Zone" sign trying to intimate that he is being
picked on by ANN's Editor-In-Chief, Jim "Zoom" Campbell. Campbell
has written extensively about the problems experienced by a number
(but not all) of Slusarczyk's customers. While a number of CGS
Aviation Hawk owners are rightfully happy with their aircraft
(which can be a delightful little flyer), this character still
pulls enough shady moves that we can not recommend him and whenever
we note this, a new round of personal attacks, falsehoods and other
Fact: A number of CGS customers have had unpleasant experiences
with the company and Mr. Slusarczyk.
Fact: A number of people have NOT gotten what they paid for and/or
been cheated by CGS.
Fact: A number of people who have complained about CGS and/or
Slusarczyk have been the recipients of personal attacks and threats
Fact: CGS has been successfully sued by unhappy customers and is
still in the process of defending itself against same in other
Fact: What "Zoom Free Zone" really means (to us and many others) is
that the person who displays this nonsense is an immature fool
(IMO) who won't make good for his "shortfalls" in customer service
and will NOT get a positive recommendation from Jim Campbell or
anybody else at ANN until he satisfies those aggrieved parties and
all the personal attacks, threats, imbecilic signs, and rumor
mongering by Chuck and his cyber-terrorist buddies will not change
that (but it will keep us laughing our asses off at this deluded,
pathetic character). This guy is more in need of a dose of reality
than anyone we know… (Rant Mode "Off")
ANN's "Above and Beyond" Award
Pete Combs, ANN's Senior Editor. Pete did
something that has never been done before... he organized the
Oshkosh editorial process better than any previous Editor…
by far. Where others lacked the necessary leadership, Pete
succeeded with good humor and patient expertise… Especially
with our rookies.
- Runner(s)-Up: The Make-A-Wish program at
Oshkosh. EAA's Randy Hansen clued us in just this morning
about this amazing project. He tells us that US Customs agent Dave
Grantham was EAA's AirVenture host for the kids, while he was the
EAA coordinator for the program. From Tuesday
to Friday Dave hosted EAA's first ever International Wish
child, Raviv, who came all the way from Israel to spend time
at AirVenture as his "wish". On Saturday Raviv was joined by 5
other wish children from Wisconsin for a full days worth of events,
including flights in an Ultralight, flights in the Ford
Tri-Motor w/Gen. Yeager, visits to KidVenture and the museum's
KidVenture Gallery, and an afternoon watching the airshow with the
performers... What a wonderful effort.
Biggest 'O' at Oshkosh
Sport Pilot's Long-Awaited/Long-Delayed
Publication. Well... it's here. But... is the long-awaited
(and awaited...) Sport Pilot announcement a case of "O
Wow!" or "O Crap?" The jury's still
out... but I have a feeling that it's going to be a little bit of
both before things settle down.. though we have high hopes for the
To Be Continued...