F-22 Raptor

An F-22 Raptor performs a high-speed pass at AirVenture 2019. The event celebrated its 50th aviation convention in Oshkosh, Wisc., July 22-28.

AirVenture 2019 celebrated its 50th aviation convention in Oshkosh, Wisc., July 22-28.

The annual show, attended by many from the Chicago area, celebrated the history, innovation and community of the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) and aviation in general.

The EAA moved from Rockford, Ill., to Oskosh in 1969 and has been a regional attraction ever since.

Throughout the weeklong show, a continual flow of air traffic filled the sky over Oshkosh. Dubbed the “busiest airport in the world” for the week of the show, AirVenture typically attracts over 10,000 aircraft and experiences nearly 20,000 aircraft movements.

Taking place at the Wittman Regional Airport, the show included a variety of antique and historically significant aircraft. Visitors walking the acres of display aircraft had the opportunity to see aircraft spanning pre-World War II to current models.

What separated this experience from an aviation museum visit was that the majority of these aircraft are still flying. Regular flights aboard the EAA Ford tri-motor allowed guests to experience what air travel was like in the 1920s and ’30s. World War II aircraft were well represented, as witnessed when 18 P-51 Mustang fighters throttled up on the runway at the same time and created a wall of sound that few will ever hear.

Daily air shows thrilled audiences as well-known performers like Sean D. Tucker hurled their aircraft toward the ground, then sky, then ground, then sky in an impressive display of control. Most of the air shows included a Warbirds (civilian-owned former military aircraft) component including large numbers of aircraft in the sky at the same time and pyrotechnic displays.

The Wednesday and Saturday night shows amazed spectators with the lights and pyro on the aircraft. The night shows ended with an amazing fireworks display.

The show also celebrated 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission with an evening program including command module pilot Michael Collins. He was joined by fellow Apollo astronaut Joe Engle and shuttle astronaut Charlie Precourt.

Looking to the future, AirVenture had many areas dedicated to the future of aviation, such as the Innovations Pavilion and NASA where new technologies and ideas were presented.

The show would not be possible without members of the EAA. They built or restored a large number of the aircraft at the show. The volunteer organization from the membership kept everything running smoothly.

AirVenture 2020 will be July 20-26, 2020. For information, visit the website at airventure.org.

In Chicago, incredible aviation performances like the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be part of the Chicago Air and Water Show Saturday, Aug. 17, through Sunday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at North Avenue Beach.

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