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Record breaking Aircraft and Spacecraft on display at Oshkosh

Crowds around SpaceShip One
I just returned from a couple of excellent days at Oshkosh having got my annual full-immersion aviation fix. There were a great deal of interesting things to see this year, ranging from celebrity spotting (Harrison Ford drew the most attention from my wife…) to the real stars of the show – the aircraft, with everything from light sport aircraft to personal jets to the worlds first privately built spacecraft on display.

I had never really visited any other airshows prior to becoming a pilot in 1999 but I’m convinced that visiting Oshkosh for Airventure is an experience unlike any other in Aviation. As a one-day visitor a few times before, it wasn’t until I managed to carve out some time (with the invaluable assistance and blessing of my wife) to spend three days at the show last year that I really got to sense what the show is about. That the Camp Scholler campground is a mini city with shops, restaurants, laundry facilities gives you some feel for the scope. Arriving midweek consigns you to the spaces closer to the interstate and its a good 15 -20 minute walk through the streets of tents, cars, RVs, dodging trams, bicycles and motor-scooters to reach the convention grounds. One day I may be able to arrive early enough to get a spot with some shade but I’m not sure when Im going to be able to take off that much time from work! (I wonder if anyone has thought of planting more trees in the main campground, it would make a huge difference in the typical July heat).

Camp Scholler on 13th Street

This year some of the main attractions were the Burt Rutan/Scaled Composites’ Spaceship One and White Knight and the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer piloted by Steve Fossett. Global Flyer arrived mid-afternoon on Wednesday and I was lucky enough to see it do a couple of passes prior to landing and taking its place in the center of Aeroshell square. Ultimately on the way to the Smithsonian Museum, Branson and Fossett revealed during their Theater and the Woods presentation on Wednesday night that it will have one more record breaking flight early in 2006. They are planning to leave from Kansas, go around the world and then continue on over the Atlantic to europe, ultimately landing in the UK. As Fossett said “it would be too hard to put this plane in the Smithsonian knowing it hadn’t fulfilled its potential”.
White Knight and Spaceship 1
Global Flyer taxiing

Another plane bound for the Smithsonian, SpaceShip One, had center stage and drew a great deal of attention from the visitors. Its not every day you get to see the first civilian spacecraft sitting 10 feet from you. Its also not every day you get to see it fly but according to the schedule that’s what will be happening later today at the start of the airshow so we’re taking our son up for his annual trip to Airventure. He’s only two, maybe he’ll take his dad flying in his personal spacecraft when he’s a bit older…

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