Day #6: Last Call for Fun at AirVenture 2016

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SITES AT THE SEAPLANE BASE

Come see what I saw on our last day at AirVenture 2016.  We checked out of our delightful B & B and headed a few miles down the road to the Seaplane Base.  People from all over the world visited the site and marked their hometowns on the map below.

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We found the Seaplane Base to be an idyllic location, one that you could fly to and then camp at if you wanted. Many people took that option, but what was the big draw this year?  What attracted so many, from so far away?

THE MARTIN MARS

Answer:  The Monster of All Flying Boats–The Mighty Martin Mars!  This behemoth, owned by the Coulson Group, is the world’s largest flying boat to be flown operationally. This aircraft, one of five built at the end of the World War II, first served as a troop transport by the U.S. Navy for several years. One of the aircraft was destroyed in a fire, and the other four were then sold in 1959 to a British Columbia forest consortium and converted to fire tankers. Two out of the original four planes had long stints fighting forest fires. The other two had accidents that permanently grounded them.

PRIVATE COLLECTOR KERMIN WEEKS

Kermit Weeks, the owner of Fantasy of Flight Museum in Florida and the largest private collector of aircraft in the world, was part of the crew flying the Martin Mars from Vancouver Island to Oshkosh’s Lake Winnebago.  Weeks felt that the aircraft is so special that he told the local news station that he “. . . believe(d) I’m being part of history” especially since he had his “doubts on whether the airplane will continue flying.” Weeks put his money where his heart is because the local news also reported that he bought his seat on the flight deck by paying the $40,000 fuel bill for the eight-hour flight. Like Weeks, Martin Mars fans came great distances to view this massive machine.

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PROBLEM ON THE LAKE

Some flew close to the aircraft to get an up close and personal view, while others on the shore were artistically inspired. We all looked forward to the promised tours of this historical flying boat.  One problem: Where were the boats taking fans out to the Martin Mars?

Oops! The flight crew had an engine issue when taking off on the lake. They made a cautionary landing in shallow water, which poked a hole in the hull.  No tours today!

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HANDSOME IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

We then found other things to do.  My favorite was the meet and greet session with the  pilots from the Canadian Geese Flying Team. These handsome guys were straight out of central casting:  drop-your-jaw gorgeous.  (Or maybe I was just tired of looking at airplanes all week!)  My husband obviously didn’t share my sentiments about needing a change of scenery because here he is admiring a Searey.

HUMOR AT THE BASE

We noticed we had other options for entertainment too as we strolled by “Naka Beach.” Everyone else strolled on by too, so nothing scandalous to report here.

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I will report that seaplane pilots obviously have a sense of humor.

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WHICH WAY TO GO?

Our time is finished at AirVenture 2016, and in case we hadn’t gotten our aviation fix, the sign post below points to other aviation sites to explore.  We are sated, so we don’t take a detour.  Instead, we are off to Milwaukee to catch our flight home.  We had a fun time playing with airplanes, but that fact didn’t hold true for the trip home. We got stuck in Atlanta overnight, but I am not going to share those details. Why end a happy story with a horrific conclusion?

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Day 4: Sea Planes and See Planes at AirVenture 2016

 

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I married for love and knew I married a man who loved airplanes in addition to me. Thursday night found us at the Seaplane Pilots Association’s annual Corn Roast and BBQ.This is gourmet dining the no-frills Wisconsin way:   grilled brats, corn cooked in a vertical roaster, baked beans, cake, and beer, all served on unadorned folding tables.

Gotta have the beer with the brats in the state that brought Schlitz Beer to the world.  The company was founded in 1849 and once was the largest producer of beer in the U.S.  I know this because my Dad worked for Schlitz.  Other kids had milk in their baby bottles; I had Schlitz, so to speak.  Dad moved on from Schlitz to work for Budweiser and Anheuser Busch.  I moved on  from Schlitz, to drinking Budweiser, then Michelob, and now AmberBock (below) and local craft beers, like Zero Gravity,  when I am not drinking my favorite, Citizen Cider’s Unified Press.  I guess I am a personified timeline of our country’s evolution in drinking habits. How goes Connie, thus goes the rest of the country.

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Beyond brats and beer, the gathering featured a band ‘o pirates relatin’ their adventures, fightin’ games, givin’ talks, ‘n auctionin’ off a ruckas booty. Arrr! We, however, added another adventure.

Gear is up and we are out of here! Off to see the airplanes that were flown in and parked on the flight line.

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Boys and their toys–grown up style!

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Parking for Cessna 195s on “Interstate 195” and parking for the Ercoupes at “Ercoupe Alley.”

“Fat Tire” doesn’t just refer to a bike or to a beer as the tire on “Raisin’ H’Eleanor shows.

The Mooney Mite is the smallest aircraft flown to the show, a single place from California.

All the creature comforts a camper could want:  a charging station, potties, showers, and water.  “Comfort” is obviously relative.

Sunset and airplanes, a tranquil end to an exciting day.

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Day 3: The Cape Cod of the Midwest and Pyrotechnics

We played hooky today.  A week at AirVenture, no matter how enjoyable, is draining. Door County beckoned in all of her beauty, and we answered the Siren’s call since this area is the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.”  There are three hundred miles of shoreline to explore, plus gift shops, art galleries, boutiques, wineries, distilleries, farm markets, and restaurants–you get the idea.  There’s temptation around every turn. Unfortunately, we had only a few hours to spare, so we had to do the “speed dating” version of the trip.

EPHRAIM:  WILSON’S FOR THE BEST ICE CREAM

Our first stop was Ephraim for lunch.  After hearing over and over, “You have to go to Wilson’s for ice cream, then you HAVE to go to Wilson’s for ice cream. They also serve homemade root beer and All-American burgers, sandwiches, fries, etc. Again, you get it. A diner that has been feeding the hungry since 1906 must be doing something right.

We luckily nabbed a parking spot on the road in front of the restaurant, noting the people mingling outside and lounging on the steps.  Warily, I entered the front door and saw fifteen people fidgeting in front of me.  I did an about-face, exited, and then re-entered the restaurant through the side door onto the porch.  A lonely table for two was looking for new friends. The waitress said that front door customers get put on the wait list for inside seating. Side door customers, however, could seat themselves on the porch on a first-come, first-served basis. Some days, some things go just right.

The good luck continued.  The waitress was friendly and the food arrived lickety-split.  Bruce and I ordered the Door County whitefish sandwich with fries and coleslaw to split. Great choice-very tasty.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a fried fish sandwich since Kennedy was in office.  Moreover, a french fry hasn’t passed my lips since Reagan was…okay, never mind.  That’s a lie. I had french fries in June.

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I wish I could lie and say we didn’t have the ice cream, but passing up that treat, would have negated the purpose of the trip.  We ordered two scoops in one dish to share:  Double Chocolate Almond and Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosion.  The words double and explosion sum up the dish.  Double what we needed, and an explosion of silky ice cream, smooth peanut butter, chunky chocolate pieces, and crunchy almonds worth every single calorie. Looking around, I noticed that most people had their own two scoops, or a huge milkshake, or a mammoth ice cream sundae bedazzled with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and cherries. (Not as large as the one below, but decadent never-the-less.) In comparison, our shared serving look downright righteous. Bruce and I seldom eat dessert–no lie–but we survived the sugar attack and happily left the diner unscathed.

Yes, you can!  No, we didn’t!

 Source: https://d3lawkbdj6aabd.cloudfront.net/singleplatform/image/upload/h_432,c_fit,c_limit/dc31cbd90f666335069d06b146706c5da0a10d62.jpg

EMPHRAIM: WALKING OFF THE CARBS

Wilson’s overlooks beautiful Green Bay, so a quick walk along the shoreline to wake up our metabolism was in order. The sun periodically poked out of clouds mixed with splotches of gray and white, reflecting on the blue water below. Raindrops rudely spit on us for a few minutes but had second thoughts and politely disappeared. We ducked into the Visitors’ Center to discover how we could do a scenic drive of Peninsula State Park, which was a convenient few miles south down the road. After getting both verbal directions and a map in hand, we walked back to the car and took off.

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EPHRAIM: SCENIC PENINSULA STATE PARK

We learned that if we didn’t stop and park, there is no entrance fee. We didn’t have time to stop anyway, and we are thrifty (cheap), so we did miss a couple major attractions:  Eagle Tower and Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.  Instead, we drove Skyline Drive, expecting gorgeous views. The drive had its highlights, but overall we were disappointed.  The right drive, but the wrong season.  Summer hid the view with heavy woods.  In the couple of places that we could peek through the trees, Green Bay was glorious in its washes of blues.

FISH CREEK:  THE HOME OF ARTISTS AND ARTISANS

Exiting the park, we drove to the next village, Fish Creek, known for its shopping and art. First, we ambled down to the shore to check out the boats and view.  To see a lot of Door County in two hours or less, we should have booked one of the scenic boat tours that leaves from Fish Creek Marina. We will be smarter travelers on the next trip.

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This day, we walked the main drag enjoying the charming architecture,

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the artistic gardens,

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and the funky shopping.

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THE DAY’S GRAND FINALE: FIREY FLAMES

 Before we knew it, our speed date reached its end time, and we drove the two hours back to Oshkosh to watch the AirVenture fireworks from the backyard of our B&B. GE generously sponsored a twenty-minute show of fiery flames that illuminated the black sky with bursts of  boom and color.

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First, however, there were almost 90 minutes of an evening airshow featuring courageous pilots who added pyrotechnics to their already dangerous maneuvers.  Flips, free falls, and fireworks flying off the planes was the opening act, but in truth, the opening act stole the show.

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In the end, AirVenture is all about the pilots, both men and women, and their amazing skills in their amazing flying machines.  I, however, cannot do what they do; I have the proverbial yellow stripe down my back.  Watching them, I become one with them, streaking across the sky, blazing free and fearless into the dark infinity.

Day #2 at EAA AirVenture 2016: Visiting the Airplanes and Other Awesome Sights

Round and round all over Wittman Regional Airport,  you can run and run and still not visit all the airplanes at EAA AirVenture 2016 in one day. I tried to do so and failed miserably.

Maybe it was the 92 degree heat that slowed me down. As the locals tell me, “We’re having your state’s kind of weather ” I can forgive Virginia’s fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk weather; Virginia is in the South, so I know what to expect. I had hoped for more (or should I say less?) from Wisconsin and its Northern environs:  less heat, less humidity, less sidewalk cuisine. Not to be!

I am not really whining because despite the hot heat, I saw some really cool spectacles, some with wings and some with not. Sweat running into my eyes did not dim my enthusiasm.

You can see the awesomeness that I saw and be totally comfortable. Pour yourself a cool one, sit back, relax, and take a “scroll” around the sights.  Here we go:

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The iconic propeller welcomes EAA AirVenture visitors at the gate.

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Pilots love their women, and the pilots of this B-29 are especially visual about expressing that love.

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This “bombshell” is not Fifi, but certainly she is the spirit of Fifi.

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C5 Galaxy military transport jet:  This plane can transport a lot of C-rations, 270,000 pounds worth according to the U.S. Air Force.

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The EAA honors the DA42 Twin Star, which was the first diesel-powered fixed-wing aircraft to make a non-stop crossing of the North Atlantic, doing so in 12.5 hours.

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The Pilatus PC-12 NG is getting rave reviews and is one of the most popular turbine-powered business aircraft on the market today.

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We have come a long way since the Xerox machine. Textron will have a 3D printed propeller engine on the new Cessna Denali turboprop.

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The ultimate toy box. Transport your light sport aircraft (LSA) and your Corvette in one trailer. A gal can dream, can’t she?

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Pipistrel’s Virus, a high-tech, carbon fiber aircraft produced in Slovenia, is a leader in the next generation of low-cost aircraft. It won the NASA PAV Centennial Challenge.

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I took several pictures of LSA, but why show the second best? Here is the best of the bunch: the ICON A5 on its trailer with the wings folded. We plan on playing on land and sea in this two-person. incredibly engineered amphibian. ETA? Hopefully, 2017.

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The daily air show offers thrills and chills on a hot, sunny day.

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Isn’t he cute? Tall, dark, handsome–and sweet!

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Need some adult refreshment to cool down? As you exit the displays, the Happy Face balloon points the way to the Beer Tent.

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Off of Wittman Regional Airport, the beer continues to flow late into the night. Wendt’s on the Lake is also famous for its fried perch. AirVenture attendees are still dining at 10 p.m.

Long days, short nights, and serendipity yet to come.  That sums up what to expect each day. I think, however, it’s time to take a road trip. More on that on Day 3….

 

 

 

Opening Day of EAA AirVenture 2016: Visiting the Vendors Through Photos

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Today, the opening day of the convention, my husband Bruce and I visited the vendors.Yes, you can buy airplane parts, hangar doors, parachutes, wind socks, etc., etc., but there is so much more. Below is a peek at the fun side of shopping the 700 vendors at the show.

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Everyone loves neon!

 

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Pilots do not take themselves too seriously!

 

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A “big ass” is quite cute.

 

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Yes, dog go flying too and need goggles to protect their eyes.

 

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Oxygen for Fido!

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Need ear muffs for your flying dogs? Contact muttsmuffs.com.

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Looking for mermaids out of your airplane’s window? Check out Heaven’s Landing in Georgia.

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What else could “A” be for?

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Obviously, pilots need a “60 Second Eye Lift” to see.  If you don’t believe me, just talk to the several vendors scattered across the field hawking this very expensive wonder cosmetic.

 

 

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After meeting with customers and visiting the vendors, Bruce Holmes is recuperating in style, getting energized to visit the plane manufacturers tomorrow.

 

EAA AirVenture 2017: Fly with Me to the Happiest Place on Earth

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Members of the Young Eagles program salute the Honda Jet at EAA AirVenture 2015

My husband and I have just flown in to the largest gathering of airplane enthusiasts in the world: EAA AirVenture 2016 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  This is a place where industry icons, astronauts, military and civilian pilots, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, movie stars, Joe and Joy Homebuilders, and aviation lovers from here and abroad come together for a week of show and tell.

THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH

During this time, Disney World can no longer claim to be the “Happiest Place on Earth.”  AirVenture is.  I know I will be seeing three-quarters of a million people grinning, laughing, ooo-ing, and ahh-ing in an explosion of happiness.

You doubt what I say because Disney has theme characters, and AirVenture does not? While there is no Mickey here, Kermit is, Kermit Weeks, that is, whom Forbes calls the “most prolific airplane collector in the world.”  Kermit will be taking paying customers on the ultimate thrill ride: a flight in the Martin Mars, a 38-foot-high and 120-foot-long flying boat guaranteed to generate some big smiles.

Now you are thinking that Disney has princesses with special powers, and AirVenture does not.  Wrong again!  Some of the bravest princesses in the universe will be challenging the laws of gravity and thermodynamics by performing loopy looping, twisty tumbling, and tickly treetop maneuvers in their aerobatic airplanes.  Another princess wil take a wild walk on the wing of a Grumman bi-plane.  There will be a score of handsome princes flying too, some in spectacular displays of smoke and pyrotechnics. There will be no sad faces this week.

ATTRACTIONS FOR ALL

Are you still doubting the happiness factor of this event because there are not enough attractions? Consider the following:

  • 10,000 aircraft, including home builts, vintage planes including  the War Birds, sea planes, business aircraft, ultra lights, kit planes, light sport aircraft, lighter than air vehicles, drones, and experimental airplanes no one has ever seen before.  Many are on display, many are in the daily air shows, many are located at the Sea Plane base, and many are the preferred mode of travel for the attendees.  You will see fields full of general aviation aircraft with the pilots and passengers camping under the wings.
  • Two nights of corporate-sponsored fireworks displays that light up the sky in rainbow bursts, bountiful booms, and a heavenly waterfall of fire splashing on the ground below.
  • 700 exhibitors promoting products to please the most discriminating aviator. Lots of free stuff too for the swag shoppers.
  • 500 forums and seminars focusing on designing, building, and inventing the cutting edge technology of the future.
  • The EAA AirVenture Museum with over 200 historic airplanes, galleries, flight simulators, and interactive galleries for kids.
  • The Theater in the Woods and a concert series for evening entertainment.
  • Gourmet dining Wisconsin style.  Feast like the locals on sizzling brats, roasted corn, and got-to-have-them cheese curds.
  • Famous people sightings, such as Harrison Ford who will be flying the two millionth flight with the Young Eagles, a program that gives children ages 8-17 their first free ride in an airplane.

I dare you to come and experience EAA AirVenture and not find it to be the Happiest Place on Earth.  Now it is time for me to go to bed and get a good night’s rest to be ready to explore the festival tomorrow.”Good Night!” I say with a smile.