EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 proved, once again, to be the world’s greatest aviation event. Every year “Oshkosh”, as many aviation enthusiasts refer to the event in Wisconsin, showcases many incredible airplanes to the several hundred thousand aviation enthusiasts who fly in from all over the world to witness or take part in the spectacle. And like every year, there is a main theme and a series of celebrations and anniversaries that are feted as a result. 2019 was the ‘Year of the Fighter’ and included a roster of the most significant American military aircraft in history, from iconic World War II-era warbirds to today’s most sophisticated flying machines. Many came to EAA AirVenture to take part in the aerial displays, and some just for the public to review on the ground.
The most momentous event celebrated at Oshkosh this year had to be the 50th anniversary of the first human to land on the moon. For the occasion, the EAA invited Apollo 11 Command Module pilot Michael Collins as a featured guest. Days after the actual 50th anniversary of his taking part in the first moon landing, Michael Collins was joined on stage by fellow Apollo astronaut and space shuttle test pilot Joe Engle, alongside fellow astronaut and EAA board member Charlie Precourt to headline the Friday programming at the Theater in the Woods.
A number of Heritage and Legacy Flights took place featuring vintage warplanes in interesting formations with present-day combat types such as the F-15, F-18, F-22, F-35 and A-10.
From a warbird prospective, EAA AirVenture 2019 saw the first Oshkosh appearance of the unique North American XP-82 Twin Mustang, which made its first post-restoration flight on New Year’s Eve 2018 following a herculean rebuild effort led by Tom Reilly in Douglas, Georgia. The aircraft won the Grand Champion Warbird Award this year, which was not a surprise to anyone who’d followed its journey back to flight. You can read our coverage of the restoration HERE. Bravo to Tom and the team!
Another important event was the salute to World War II triple ace Col. Clarence ‘Bud’ Anderson. Every flying P-51 in the U.S. was invited to Oshkosh to participate. Roughly 30 examples were on hand at Oshkosh, representing all but one Mustang production variant, participated in the event! About 18 of them took part in a massed flypast as well. The EAA Museum even wheeled out their unique XP-51 prototype out for their own photoshoot which included each production variant on hand, and this included the XP-82. All they were missing was a P-51A, and it would have been the full set!
Vintage U.S. Naval Aviation types were also present in significant numbers at Oshkosh this year and included several F4U Corsairs, a brace of Bearcats and the rare Collings Foundation’s combat veteran Grumman F6F-3N Hellcat Bu.41476 to name but a few. The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm also had representation at EAA AirVenture as well, including Hawker Sea Fury FB.10 WJ288 (painted to represent an aircraft with 804 Squadron aboard the carrier HMS Theseus in late 1952) and Eddie Kurdziel’s magnificent Fairey Firefly AS.6 WD828 (painted to represent Firefly AS.5 WB518).
Another fabulous warbird visiting Oshkosh for the first time was deHavilland Mosquito FB.6 PZ474, fresh off the restoration queue at AvSpecs in Ardmore, New Zealand. Once an extinct breed in the air, the Mosquito is celebrating a renaissance at present with four examples now flying, and all of them residing in North America. PZ474 belongs to Rod Lewis, who has made a significant impact in the warbird community with some of the rare aircraft he has commissioned for resurrection.
The 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion also featured prominently at Oshkosh, and featured several of the C-47s and DC-3s flush with the success of their participation in the D-Day Squadron’s adventures in Europe this summer. Eight of the airplanes that made the North Atlantic crossing to Normandy were present at AirVenture and they performed in the air show several times during the week.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 also celebrated the 50th anniversary for the first flight of the ‘Queen of the Skies’, the mighty Boeing 747 airliner. Although not widely used by the military, the Boeing 747 changed the face of commercial aviation, allowing airlines to transport hundreds of people at a time across continents and oceans in a matter of hours. While the 747’s mission has shifted more towards cargo transport as airlines move to more fuel-efficient types, its paramount legacy in the world of aviation is etched in stone. For the occasion, the manufacturer brought its newest aircraft, a 747-8F that Boeing hasn’t yet officially delivered to its end customer, UPS. The massive cargo aircraft arrived on the morning on Tuesday, July 23 and departed on Thursday at the conclusion of the air show that day.
A big thank you of appreciation goes to the EAA and their several thousand volunteers who contributed to the success of this year’s AirVenture!
Check out or photo gallery courtesy of George Land.