Launching the next century of flight
It is that time of the year again and I was fortunate enough to make it to Oshkosh for the third consecutive year in a row, albeit for just two days. It is always invigorating and exciting to be present at Oshkosh. Isn’t it incredible that such a small airport is transformed for one week into almost a city of its own, comprising of pilots and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world?
The theme for this year’s convention was Launching the next century of Flight and what better way then by cheering the men who are launching the next generation of spacecraft? After the successful flight of SpaceshipOne on June 21st, there was much cause for celebration. A triumphant Rutan and Melville flew in the Starship Beechcraft, the chase plane for SpaceShipOne. Crowds thronged to hear Rutan and Melville speak, to applaud and salute them.
Preflighting the Starship Beechcraft : Rutan
The XPrize fever is finally catching on. If you missed the flight on the 21st
, here is your opportunity. Rutan announced that they would attempt the Ansari Prize flight on September 29th
, 2004, followed by a second flight on the October 4th
. Tickets can be purchased at xprize.org
. Peter Diamandis of XPrize was also there to talk about the XPrize, about the various contenders and the future of XPrize beyond 2005. And just this week, the Da Vinci (Canadian) team has announced that they would attempt the flight on October 2nd
The RACE FOR PRIVATE MANNED SPACE FLIGHT is definitely on!
Above: Melville posing for my friend Manu.
The Sport Pilot Rule was also officially rolled out on the opening day. Several forums covered details and discussions on the newly introduced rule and vendors displayed new sport aircraft. This new rule embraces many more, to the already growing pilot population. No more worry about medicals, just take your driving license, hop on a plane and be off. But wait though, the new rule will not be effective until September 1st, the PTS and knowledge tests will not be available until October, there may not be a Flight Examiner until January and it may be at least spring before you can buy a sport aircraft.
While the Sport Pilot Rule and the XPrize dominated the convention, a visit to Airventure is never complete without soaking in the afternoon airshows in the heat (or rain), seeing all the homebuilt aircraft, the ultralights, warbirds, Breezy ( I am yet to take a ride in it!), Ford Trimotor, not to forget the Harrier, all the display aircraft, the brand new aircraft (with all the glass cockpit stuff) and avionics, forums, vendor booths, seaplane base, EAA Museum, latest ford sport car models, camping at Camp Scholler and most of all the people and the thrill of just being there.
This time of the year, thunderstorms prevail throughout the Midwest and I have come to accept and expect it. Fortunately though, both days I was there happened to be sunny, with a thunderstorm during the night. Couldn’t have asked for better!
If I haven’t caught your attention and interest enough to visit Oshkosh, here’s ten more reasons!
Top Ten Reasons To Fly Oshkosh, Wisconsin
10. Enjoy “Convenient” Parking MILES from the Main Gate
9. Create New Blisters & Muscle Cramps to areas previously untouched
8. See if TOO MUCH SUN REALLY CAN cause skin cancer
7. Dehydrate acres away from any known beverage stand
6. Stand in SLOW LINES to eat FAST FOOD
5. Experience the PORT-A-POTTIES… (hopefully upwind!)
4. Test whether 80 decibels of airplane noise will cause hearing loss. I said, “TEST WHETHER 80 DECIBELS OF AIRPLANE NOISE…”
3. Check out your rain-mud-wind-sun endurance—ALL IN THE SAME DAY!!
2. Deplete your life’s savings on everything that says “OSHKOSH, WISCONSIN”
1. JUST GO PLANE CRAZY! (with the WRIGHT CROWD!)
It is all true and yet come July 2005 I will be planning my next trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. There is no place like it, if you are just PLANE CRAZY!
Article appeared in the 2004 September/October issue of Southwesterly, the newsletter of the Southwest Section 99s
Melville photograph courtesy Manohari Ramesh.
Top Ten Reasons (unknown author) taken from a T-shirt.