My Annual Pilgrimage

By: Category: AirlinesAirshowsAirtankersEAA AirVentureEventsFly-inMilitaryMuseumsWarbird

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AirVenture, EAA, Oshkosh, The World’s Busiest for 6 Days, whatever you call it, it is one of the Premier Aviation Events of the Year. This Year’s AirVenture did not disappoint in the least. From the Martin Mars, Tora, Tora, Tora, The Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, to the Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-8F as usual there was something for everyone. We all have a specific reason, commemoration, event, or aircraft that draws our attention or reason for attending. This year we had several Special Events including Boeing’s 100th Birthday, the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard, the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, The 25th Anniversary of Desert Storm and many more. If you craved Fast Jet action VFA-106 with the FA-18F Super Hornet and the 20TH FW or East Coast Viper Demo team with the F-16C tore things up nicely. Let’s not forget the Warbirds, EAA Warbirds of America and the Texas Flying Legends Museum put on it’s usual crisp displays in the Daily Airshow.

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One of the Many reasons I had to attend this year was the unusual amount of larger Commercial Airliner type Movements. In honor of Boeing’s 100th Birthday Cathay Pacific Cargo brought 747-867F, B-LJA or better known as Hong Kong Trader. “Cathay 92” arrived from KORD on Saturday morning and remained on display at Boeing Plaza all day until departing back at KORD as “Cathay 93” and revenue service. American Airlines provided 737-823 N993NN to carry Veteran’s to Washington D.C. for this year’s Honor Flight. This full load of our Veterans returned to a Water Cannon salute after a full day touring Memorials in the Nation’s Capitol. A very welcome surprise arriving in the gloom on Friday was N321GG, the GOGO Wireless 737-500. This aircraft was also in display on Boeing Plaza for the weekend after arriving from Aurora IL. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airlines also had aircraft in and out as well.

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Several Vintage airliners were also to be found coming and going all week long. Restored DC-3, NC33611 Pan American World Airways Clipper Tabitha May parked alongside several other DC-3’s. This DC-3 would eventually win a 2016 Transport Category Champion award. Several other DC-3’s, C-47’s, and even a BT-67 made an appearance. The BT-67 is a highly modified and upgraded Turboprop version of the DC-3 that Basler remanufactures on the Southeast side of the Airport. Two different Ford Tri-Motors provided rides everyday of the show. Numerous Beech 18’s, Grumman Albatrosses, Howard 500’s and others graced the skies on a daily basis.

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Military aircraft that were adapted from a Civilian Counterpart and vice versa made appearances. The Boeing KC-135 was represented this year from my hometown unit the 128th ARW based here at General Mitchell International Airport. The KC-135 is celebrating its 60th Birthday this year, with 2 different aircraft represented either flying or on display. The KC-135 shares its origins with the aircraft that would become the 707. The United States Customs and Border Patrol had a AEW P-3 Orion in display all week. The P-3 is based on the Lockheed L-188 Electra. The United States Coast Guard had a HC-144A Ocean Sentry from Mobile AL in Anniversary colors on display. This highly modified Maritime Patrol aircraft started life as the Civilian CN-235.

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AirVenture 2016 also featured several other FA-18’s from many different units including one from NASA. F-86’s, P-51’s, T-6’s from the AeroShell Team and Geico Skytypers were in the skies daily. We were also treated to the Final Airshow Appearance of the mighty F-4 Phantom in the shape of 2 QF-4E Phantom’s. It was announced on Thursday when both aircraft departed that they were both scheduled for target practice in a few days and this was the last appearance for both aircraft.

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It was another amazing year, and despite varying weather conditions which is typical for a Wisconsin Summer, AirVenture 2016 was another success. Wittman Field is quiet again, until next year when the speculation and excitement builds as to what the EAA has in store for us. Until next time, Blue Skies to all.

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