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Mon, Jul 23, 2012

The Day Before Opening Day

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like AirVenture at Wittman Field

There's something ... different ... about the day before opening day of AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. Among the exhibitors and vendors, there's a sense of urgency and purpose. Hundreds of aircraft of all types are landing and being towed to their exhibit spaces, or being unloaded from semi trailers and uncrated after a long trip from somewhere. With several new airplanes set to make their first appearance or U.S. debut at the show this year, many more in various stages of development, and hundreds of products waiting to be displayed to the aviation community and press, the commerce aspect of AirVenture has spent the last several days getting ready for opening day.

In contrast to "Sloshkosh" of two years ago, the grounds of Wittman Regional Airport have been baked brown by an early-summer midwestern heat wave. The term "OshScorch" was tossed around a bit. Temperatures topped 100 degrees several days in July, and the grass in the airplane parking areas is showing the stress of the heat, with one or two days in the 90s forecast for the coming week. But the heat has not dampened the enthusiasm of the people making what for many is an annual pilgrimage to central Wisconsin. And those parking areas are already filling up with airplanes of every shape, size and description.

One of the main events this year is a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the iconic Piper Cub, and there are Cubs lined up wingtip to wingtip on on the south side of the airport nearly as far as the eye can see.

The sea of yellow with and occasional speck of white and red makes for an impressive sight with so many of the same airplane all gathered in one place. The Cubs have come from everywhere, some everyday working airplanes, some pristine show pieces, all the pride and joy of their owners. Further south, there are dozens of Cessna 195s, and then several rows of Ercoupes, or Aircoupes, depending on when the airplane was manufactured. Across the road, the ultralights are gathering. To the north, homebuilts and kitplanes, and then the warbirds.

By the time you read this, AirVenture will be in full swing. Quite literally, if you take a ride on the bungee frame. But the day before the show opens is different, somehow. Still coming together, still not quite ripe, but with an anticipation of a week filled with all things related to aviation. We're looking forward to sharing it all with you. Thanks for coming along.

(Pictured Top: Lisa Airplanes Amphibious Float Plane, Center: Cubs Parked on the flight line, Bottom: 1937 Cabin Waco ANN Staff photos)



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