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EAA Oshkosh AirVenture 2004
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
July - August, 2005
Airshow Photo Report
by: Robert Eng

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There's no place like Oshkosh in July. According to the Experimental Aircraft Association, some 700,000 people, 2,927 showplanes and more than 10,000 aircraft converged on Wittman Field for the annual convention. That being said, AirVenture 2005 attendees endured Mother Nature's sweatbox as high heat and humidity ruled both opening and closing days. Thunderstorms moved through after the opening, bringing high winds, savage lightning and daytime temps that held in the 70's for most of the week.

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AeroShell Square was the place to be (or at least try to get near) most of the week with Monday's arrival of the Ansari X-Prize winning SpaceShipOne and its mothership, White Knight, flown by civilian astronauts Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie. SpaceShipOne's Scaled Composites' stablemate, the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, flown by adventurer Steve Fossett, took up its place in the square Tuesday but the real thrill was seeing both of these history-making craft fly for the public.

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Scaled Composites founder and president Burt Rutan did his part to inspire the next generation when he announced that children would be allowed to touch the DC-bound spacecraft as Microsoft co-founder and project backer Paul G. Allen has donated it to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. The craft will take its place alongside the Spirit of St. Louis and the Bell X-1 in late September.

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In other SpaceShipOne related news , Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson announced the formation of The SpaceShip Company, in partnership with Scaled Composites, that will produce five spacecraft and introduced some of Virgin Galactic's first paying customers.

Steve Fossett announced he'll attempt another round the world flight in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, but this time around a longer course now that the fuel leak that plagued his first trip has been fixed.

The new Sport Pilot display area showed off some of the first aircraft offerings available in the exciting new class. Running the gamut from Piper Cub and 3/4 scale P-51 Mustang look-alikes to original designs in everything from composites to tube and fabric, they attracted a lot of attention from convention-goers.

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Airventure 2005 was a memorable one for business jets as convention-goers saw the arrival of the new Cessna Citation Mustang as well as flights by the Eclipse 500 and Adam Aircraft A700 Adam Jet twin jets. The public debut of the HondaJet "concept aircraft", which flew in from its North Carolina home for an 11am press conference in AeroShell Square and was winging its way home by mid-afternoon, left many in the crowd wanting more.

Tri-motored aircraft from around the world participated in several daily airshow showcases including several Ford Tri Motors, a Junkers Ju-52 and the amazing turboprop-driven Dornier 24ATT amphibian.

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The warbird shows demonstrated some of the most impressive numbers and formation work by T-6's, T-28's, T-34's and eastern bloc trainers that I've seen in a long time. They provided an amazing backdrop that commanded the crowd's attention as well even during the performance passes by the heavy iron.

While the showcase of bombers fell a bit flat with the corrosion-caused cancellation by the Commemorative Air Force's B-29 FiFi, the warbird show still fielded a B-17 Flying Fortress missing man formation that is sure to be remembered for a long time to come.

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Airshow performers included greats and crowd favorites like Patty Wagstaff, Sean D. Tucker, Mike Goulian, Jim LeRoy, Julie Clark and Mike Mancuso and several new faces to AirVenture including the Stars of Tomorrow, flying three dissimiliar airplanes in formation aerobatics. Nick Nilmeyer, Jessy Panzer, and Eric Tucker (yes, Sean's son - where does the time go?) put on a show that was great fun to watch. However, the airshow just wasn't the same without the sights and sounds of the Jet Waco biplane or of Samson - Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin, you are missed.

Story, photos and captions by:
Robert Eng

About the author:
Robert Eng has been a professional photographer for many years, most recently, spending several years in the employ of the Boston Herald as a staff photographer. Robert is a member of International Society of Aviation Photographers and is currently available for contract work as a free-lance photojournalist.

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