July 27, 2009

Pilots Unite to Celebrate Aviation at AirVenture

av09_logo.jpgPilots and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world have once again begun to converge on Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for AirVenture, the annual celebration of aviation. This event helps to stoke the fire of enthusiasm for aviation dreamers. I vividly remember attending this event and dreaming of coming back some day as a pilot. This week, I will be making my third visit to AirVenture since realizing my dream. On Saturday I will celebrate the five year anniversary of earning my Pilot's License in the best way possible: surrounded by fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts at Oshkosh.

One of the biggest challenges for a visit to AirVenture is planning your days. I will have little more than two days at this event and will do my best to fit all I can during my time there. The AirVenture website offers a nice planning tool that allows you to search the vast list of activities and meetings and filter them by your own preferences. You can save and print your personalized itinerary. Sadly, they have not figured out a solution to clone speakers or attendees so I am going to have to miss some exciting events to participate in others.

Here are just a few of the events, meetings or sights I plan to enjoy during my visit to AirVenture.


Posted at 7:19 PM | Post Category: AirVenture, Airshows | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

June 19, 2009

Airbus A380 is Coming to AirVenture 2009

airbus.jpgThe folks at the always do an excellent job of bringing in the top aviation attractions to their annual airshow. One of the exciting additions to the 2009 roster will be the Airbus A380. I have enjoyed sneaking peaks of this amazing plane from my window seats on a few commercial aircraft. I am looking forward to having a chance to see this amazing aircraft close and personal later this summer.

The A380 will arrive and conduct a flight performance on Tuesday, July 28th. After the performance they will park it on the tarmac for show visitors to view. It will take to the skies again on July 31st and perform another demonstration flight before making its show departure.

Airbus Americas Chairman T. Allan McARtor commented "It makes perfect sense for the A380 to be featured at Oshkosh - not only because it is the largest passenger aircraft in history, but also because the remarkable A380 would not have been possible without the considerable support of our airline - and supplier-partners from around the world who worked with us over many years to make the aircraft a reality."

Fellow Chicago Aviation Blogger, Rob Mark of Jetwhine, had the opportunity to fly the A380 earlier this month. Visit JetWhine.com to read his write-up and to listen to a podcast interview with Rob about his experiences in the Cockpit of the A380.

The excitement for AirVenture 2009 is definitely building with this recent news.


Posted at 2:47 PM | Post Category: Airshows, EAA AirVenture | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

August 17, 2008

Chicago Air and Water Show Notice to Airmen

airshow_tfr.jpgEver wonder how a pilot knows to stay clear of an airshow? According to Federal Aviation Regulations 91.03 "Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight." Therefore it is the pilot's responsibility to determine whether there are any hazards along the intended route of flight.

A pilot can take advantage of many online services to fulfill this requirement or make a call to flight service briefer. Before each of my flights I contact Flight Service for a last minute check on the weather and also to double check for TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) or NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen). If I had been intending to fly along the lakefront I would have learned during this process that there was a Notice to Airmen restricting flight within five miles of the airshow center.

In the example of the Chicago Air & Water Show they communicate the location by using the show centers location in regards to the Chicago O'Hare VOR. For example the Airspace is defined as having a show center located at 13.6 nautical miles out from the Chicago O'Hare VOR on the 106° radial. The flight restriction is then for a radius of 5 nautical miles from that point from the surface to 16,000 feet.

You can view a sample of the Notice on the FAA website.

August 14, 2008

Riding Shotgun in the T-6 Texan

ChicagoAirandWaterShow2008_t-6.jpgThe 2008 Chicago Air & Water Show roared into town today. Military and civilian aircraft from all over the country began arriving this morning at the Gary International Airport where most of them will be based throughout the airshow.

Today at the airshow media day I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek at many of the acts, speak with some of the pilots, go for some rides and best of all fly the T-6 Texan! As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, one of the acts I am most excited about this year is Bill Leff's Night Airshow. His T-6 Texan is specially equipped with pyrotechnics so he can put on a thrilling unique night time airshow experience. In meeting Bill I learned that he is from Dayton, Ohio. I shared with him that I learned to fly in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. After learning I was a pilot, Bill offered to let me fly the T-6 Texan when we went for a flight.

I had flown in a T-6 with the AeroShell team previously, though since they fly in tight formations there was no opportunity for me to fly. Shortly after getting airborne Bill told me the plane was mine. I flew us out to the practice area and performed a few turns and climbs. Once at the practice area he took over the aircraft to perform some aerobatics. We flew a variety of maneuvers but my favorites were the barrel roll and the loop. I love the power of the T-6! On the way back to Gary he gave me the plane back and had me fly us back until we were on short final where he took over the plane for landing. I had a great time talking to Bill and flying with him and am really looking forward to watching him perform on Friday night. If you are in the Chicago Area stop by the lakefront tomorrow night to see him perform.

2008ChicagoAirandWaterShow_limalima.jpgAs we parked the plane the Lima Lima Flight Team returned from a press flight. Sitting in the back seat of the lead plane was Florence Henderson (AKA Carol Brady from the Brady Bunch). Henderson will be singing the national anthem each day of the airshow. She was kind enough to take a photo with me (Available in slideshow below).

While standing there I learned there was a spare seat in one of Lima Lima's T-34s for their next sortie, so I jumped on that. Rick "Knuckles" Nichols took great care of me and gave a very enjoyable flight. We were in the seventh plane in an eight plane formation. During they show they will perform as a six-plane team, Nichols will serve as the team announcer during the show. Be sure not to miss Lima Lima's performances this weekend.

Throughout the day the Blue Angels were coming and going to do spot checks and practice flights over Chicago. I did not get to see a preview of their Chicago Show but did enjoy seeing a few maneuvers back at Gary. I guess it gives me something to look forward to during the next few days.


August 13, 2008

The Show Must Go On - Aeroshell to Perform Without Team Leader

aeroshell1.jpgPrior to the 2006 Airshow, I had the opportunity to take a flight with Chicago Air & Water Show regulars, the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team. The Aeroshell team is made up of four talented pilots and their T-6 Texan aircraft. Unfortunately, this year the team will be flying a three-plane formation due to a non-flying injury to team leader, Alan Henley.

In late July, Alan was paralyzed from the neck down after a fall in his home. He is currently at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital's trauma unit, where he is listed in serious but stable condition. You can read about his recovery on a CaringBridge.org blog being authored by his wife. My prayers go out to Alan, his family and his teammates.

His twin brother, Mark, will take over as lead pilot for the formation for this weekend's show. I had the opportunity to fly with Mark in 2006. What I took away from meeting Mark and the rest of the team was that they absolutely love their jobs. These guys were extremely passionate about aviation and enjoyed entertaining fans across the country with their flying skills.

I am looking forward to their performance this weekend but saddened that they won't be joined by their team leader, Alan. Get well soon Alan!

August 12, 2008

Chicago Air & Water Show Practice Schedule

chicago_air_water_show_blue_angels.jpgMany avid Chicago Air & Water Show fans have relied on the fact that Friday has typically been a practice day. Airshow enthusiasts could come down to the lakeshore and experience many of the airshow acts without the massive crowds the weekend event typically draws.

This year with the Air Show adding a formal Friday night show many people have asked me, "Does that mean there will be a practice show on Thursday?". According to an Airshow representative "There will be no formal practice like in the past but there will be flying to do spot checks".

Most the performance teams will arrive at the Gary/Chicago International Airport on Thursday, August 14th. That afternoon many of the teams will be taking members of the media up for flights over the lake but well south of the city closer to Gary. After their media responsibilities, teams like the Blue Angels will likely do a city spot check so expect to hear them roaring over the city starting on Thursday. There may also be some practicing on Friday in the morning prior to Friday nights show opening.

Chicago Air & Water Show Adds a Friday Night Show to the Schedule

t-6texan_night.jpg
One of my favorite weekends is just around the corner. The Chicago Air & Water Show takes place this weekend on the Chicago lakefront. Since this will the the 50th Annual Air & Water Show the city has decided to celebrate by adding an additional day to the festivities. The event is the oldest and largest free admission air and water show in the country.

Civilian and military performers will arrive in the Chicago area on Thursday. So the skies over Chicago will become active starting Thursday morning. Most the practice and spot checks will take place Thursday afternoon and Friday morning prior to the Friday night event.

Two Chicagoan Actors will help kick-off the show on Friday. Bill Murray, who played a confused Army Soldier in Stripes, will kick-off the show when he jumps with the U.S. Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights at 3pm on Friday. Fellow Chicagoan Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band will play a free concert at the North Avenue Beach house at 5pm. After the concert there will be more acrobatics and high speed flying leading up to an 8:45 firework show.

I am especially interested to check out a new act this year. Bill Leff will be piloting a Korean War restored T-6 Texan. His plane has been retrofitted to allow him to perform a night show featuring pyrotechnics and streams of light.

The Airshow continues on Saturday and Sunday from 11am - 4pm. Unfortunately, there is not an official Chicago Air & Water Show schedule. Typically the show starts with civilian acts then moves into military acts culminating with the feature act which this year is the U.S. Navy Blue Angeles. The following appearances have been confirmed:


Typically there are variety of additional flybys by military fighters and bombers. I am told there will be a few surprise flybys over the weekend that have not yet been announced. More on the Chicago Air & Water Show in the days to come.

July 29, 2008

Don't Miss the EAA AirVenture Seaplane Base

This past weekend I made a whirlwind visit to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. I packed as much as I could into my twenty-four hours at the show. I intend to write more about the things I saw and experienced at AirVenture in the coming days. In the meantime I wanted to share an unexpected highlight, and also share a of my photos for those not able to make it to this years event.

I have attended AirVenture several times in the past. Though, I have never departed from the main event at Wittman Regional Airport to visit the Seaplanes. This year after checking out the few seaplanes that landed at the airport I decided to take the short bus ride to lagoon in the western shore of Lake Winnebago to check out the seaplanes. The moment I arrived I was so glad I made the trip. After leaving Wittman with the huge crowds and non-stop activity it was nice to take a quiet stroll down a wood-chipped path that opened up to a beautiful lagoon that serves as a the EAA AirVenture Seaplane Base.

For three dollars you can take a 15 minute pontoon boat ride through the lagoon giving you a chance to view the planes up-close. My pontoon boat captain had flown down from Canada earlier this week in his seaplane and enjoyed talking with us about all the planes in the cove.

So if you are are at Oshkosh or planning to make the pilgrimage later this week then take an hour or two to re-charge your batteries with a visit to the EAA AirVenture Seaplane Base.

Speaking of seaplanes, later in the day while walking through the exhibit hall I met George Erickson, author of True North. In his book he writes about his experiences flying through the Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories in a Piper PA-11 Seaplane. After a brief conversation with him I knew I had to read his book. I look forward to cracking it open this evening.

I have uploaded a variety of my photos from my trip to Oshkosh including a few photos of the Seaplane base.


Posted at 9:47 PM | Post Category: Airshows, EAA AirVenture | Comments (3) | Save & Share This Story

July 27, 2008

AirVenture: The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

2008_airventure.jpgIt is that time of year again where pilots from around the world descend on an airport in central Wisconsin for a week long celebration of Aviation that is EAA AirVenture. Thousands of planes descend on Oshkosh making it the busiest airport in the world for a few days. For aviation enthusiasts this is an event you need to attend this event once in your life. I was unable to attend last year but had a great time at AirVenture in 2006.

I will be participating in the 2008 Aviation Blogger Fest at 4pm on Monday. Fellow blogger, Rob Mark of Jetwhine, has organized an event specifically for aviation bloggers. I am looking forward to meeting some of the bloggers I interact with online but have yet to meet in person.

I will post a few short updates through Twitter (MyFlightBlog) while in Oshkosh and then post a summary later in the week on MyFlightBlog.


Posted at 2:13 PM | Post Category: Airshows, EAA AirVenture | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

July 16, 2008

The Wings of Freedom Tour Returns to Chicago

2007_28_2007_b17angle.jpgThe 19th Annual Season of Wings of Freedom is underway and their magnificent bombers have arrived back in the Chicago area. The Collings Foundation has spent the last twenty years recovering and restoring historic aircraft. Four amazing airplanes will be on display at Chicago airports and also flying paying customers for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Fleet that arrived in Chicago this week includes a B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell and a new addition this year a P-51 Mustang. Customers can book flight experiences by visiting the Collings Foundation website. Or come out to one of the local airports during the dates below to see the aircraft and hear the roar of their engines.

  • Waukegan Regional Airport - July 16th to 18th
  • Chicago Executive Airport - July 18th to 21st
  • Porter County/Valparaiso - July 21 to July 23rd
  • Chicago/Rockford Intl. - July 23rd to 25th
  • W. Chicago/Dupage Airport - July 25th to 28th

WingsofFreedom 123a.jpgThe Collings Foundation invited me to fly in their B-17 Flying Fortress as it was flown from Valparaiso to Chicago Executive Airport last year. All, I can say is that flight was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are fewer and fewer of these amazing aircraft still in flying condition and it was a thrill just to hear its engine and awesome to experience the plane in flight. I was lucky to be accompanied on that flight by a former WWII B-17 Pilot which made the experience all that more amazing.

If you are in the Chicago area be sure to check out these amazing aircraft while they are in the area. If you are outside of Chicago look up their schedule on the Collings Foundation website.


Posted at 6:20 PM | Post Category: Airshows, B-17 Flying Fortress | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story