Playground for Pilots - 2009 AirVenture Oshkosh EAA - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Playground for Pilots - 2009 AirVenture Oshkosh EAA

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If Oshkosh is anything like Woodstock '69, we should've been having the time of our lives running through the mud. The buzz kill - dragging 50+ pounds of luggage/camping gear for what seemed like miles in the rain. We were lost souls, wandering through thousands of airplanes and people just trying to find a place to call home for a few days.

I was told the thing to do at Airventure...camp under the wing. Well, we had to leave our tiny wings at home and took a big bird into Green Bay, then traveled by bus to Oshkosh. If you have a choice, I'd recommend flying into OSH.

(The world's largest passenger airliner Airbus A380, and I'm loving the rain)

Wittman Regional airport in Wisconsin for one week was considered the world's busiest airport, full of aviation lovers, dreamers and worn-around-the-edges pilots. The air show performances were above and beyond anything I had seen before. It's the culmination of the very best pilots, not necessarily competing, but using "the box" to fully express their joy for this sport. I call it a sport because anyone who flies aerobatics endures a punishing routine pulling 7+ g's, - 2 g's. While my aerobatic experiences are not even worth mentioning compared to these wild aviats, I can tell you, you work up a sweat.

As you can see in this picture the onlookers don't mind the occasional raindrop when there's some good flying to see.

Basically, anything newsworthy or on the cutting edge of technology was featured here. White Knight Two, not a chess game, is a private space tourism aircraft. The 140 ft. wingspan is impressive.

The heroic pilots of US Airways flight 1549 flight spoke to a crowd of thousands. Even though I've seen countless interviews on TV, I was awe struck listening to them talk about their lives after the emergency landing in the Hudson.

I spent a few minutes with Patty Wagstaff during one of her meet and greets. I had the unique opportunity to interview her at the San Diego Air & Space Museum during her induction into the SDASM hall of fame a few years ago. Finally, I saw her fly the heck out of that Extra 300S. The inverted ribbon cutting, although copied by many, was a treat to watch. Inverted flying, period, is rugged enough on the body. She is something else.

Most San Diegans have seen the Red Bull Air Races by now. If you were impressed by the pilots' skill and precision for that event, imagine plucking Mike Goulian & Kirby Chambliss out of the race and giving them the freedom to explore the sky. What an incredible show! Kirby's signature takeoff is something you have to see in person. Gives a new meaning to best angle of climb. Oh, and have you seen the only U.S. pilot certified to fly aerobatics in a helicopter? Chuck Aaron in his BO-105 CBS showed the crowd that straight and level flight is so yesterday.

There are so many gadgets to play with, conferences to attend, and planes to buy at Airventure.

(A very green idea: the MX2 runs on Ethanol)

(An old time machine, the only Pitcairn PA-18 Autogiro flying)


(My favorite boat with wings belongs to Red Bull: 1957 Grumman HU-16E "Albatross")


While you might call Airventure a pilot's heaven, it was a mild hell for me, punishment of the worst kind. Don't get me wrong. I had a good time. I just can't handle being stuck on the ground. I was there to watch and learn, but after a certain point, I wanted to get up and do. You see, my dream is to own a Super Decathlon and fly aerobatics, maybe even compete. I try to learn from the best and in return I've had the opportunity to pick up valuable information. I have to admit I'm an immediate gratification kind of person, so waiting is not an easy task for me.

Maybe I can't buy a Super Decathlon today, but that doesn't mean I can't do the things that will get me closer to my dream. One thing is guaranteed, I won't give up.


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