EAA AirVenture has come and gone yet again. The Texas Flying Legends Museum were proud to be at Oshkosh, WI for this year’s gathering at the annual flyin. The museum had six aircraft present this year; B-25J Mitchell Betty’s Dream, P-51 Mustang Dakota Kid II, P-40 Warhawk, FM-2P Wildcat, FG-1D Corsair and for the first time at AirVenture the Spitfire MkIXc.
The week started with a quick hop over from Sioux Falls where the fleet participating the weekend before at the Sioux Falls Airshow. You can read about the activities from that weekend here. The fleet arrived at Appleton, WI where they would be for two days while dealing with a slight mechanical issue with the magneto on the Mustang. After a practice flight over Waupaca Municipal Airport on Tuesday the fleet headed to Oshkosh where they would be for the rest of the week.
The Mustang’s magneto proved to be troublesome causing the mustang to be grounded on Wednesday for the group performance. However, with the planes situated in Warbird Alley, crowds of people would come by and look inside the engine housing to see what makes a warbird come to life. It proved to be one of the best spectacles in Warbird Alley as everyday more people would come by to see the plane. It even had one or two judges fooled.
Despite the mustang not being up for Wednesday’s performance the fleet still performed their routine with precision. The stormy skies rolled in bringing cool temperatures but also a dramatic backdrop for the pyrotechnics going off for the bombing and straffing runs. Thursday showed the return of the Mustang to the skies and the pilots executed their performance with precision yet again.
The Spitfire MkIXc, painted in honor of the Half Stork Free French Squadron of WWII, was of particular interest at Warbird Alley this year. The area was filled with great planes, including many Mustangs, but the Spitfire brought joy to a lot of people who don’t normally get to see a flying example here in the states. The cockpit was left open for the public to see the inside of this remarkable bird. On the flip side, one group of gentlemen that came by had flown over from Britain for the airshow and were taken back by all the Mustangs. For them seeing the rows of Mustang’s was overwhelming while the Spitfire was benign. It was a perfect example of the cultural differences in the Warbird community.
The general public were not the only people interested in the Spitfire. A group of British reenactors came over Thursday morning and spent over an hour enjoying the Spitfire and posing for the people passing by. At one point the reenactors gathered in front of the prop and started singing some classic WWII British pilot songs. Towards the end of their time with the Spitfire, one of the reenactors, Walsh, got inside the cockpit fully dressed as if ready for a combat mission. It was a thrill for both Walsh and for those watching to see this small piece of history come back to life.
As is common with EAA AirVenture there is always more to see then time to see it all. Wednesday morning brought clouds, rain and wind to the airshow which helped dramatically bring down the heat and humidity of the previous days. For those that were crazy enough to be out before sunrise, the skies were absolutely gorgeous for photography. One of the key features about AirVenture are the rows of various airplanes. It’s not everyday or every airshow that you can turn in a full 360 and see a different airplane. It not only makes AirVenture special but also what keeps people coming back.
Like many airshows there are often reunions that take place. At EAA AirVenture this year TFLM was proud to bring our P-40K Warhawk, Aleutian Tiger, to the show and reunite the plane with the family that painted the nose art for the 343rd Fighter Group, 11th Fighter Squadron. Kathy Lange is the daughter of Ed Lange who served in the 11th Fighter Squadron in Alaska during 1943. Ed created the tiger nose art for the squadron as well as a number of other paintings, including portraits of his fellow pilots. His grandson, as seen here, got to go up into the P-40 and relive some of what his Dad felt. After returning home that evening Kathy called her brother Robert who came down the next day and got to see his fathers work.
Among the other honored guests that TFLM was able to inspire throughout AirVenture were the kids of the Candler Field Youth Program who flew to Oshkosh in a Champ rebuilt by the Candler Museum. Some of those kids then got to ride in Betty’s Dream from Appleton, WI to Oshkosh, WI.
The kids spent a good deal of time around the warbirds including the Corsair and especially the B-25. Alan Miller, pilot of the B-25, headed up the program so that the kids got a chance to see and enjoy the ins and outs of a warbird. It was a great opportunity to not only inspire the kids but also keep them hooked on aviation since they are the future of aviation.
Every year is spent anticipating the airshow’s that take place that year and every year they are over in a heart beat. EAA AirVenture is a flyin like no other. It is hard to describe in words the joy and excitement that takes place every year at Oshkosh. The shear size of the venue makes it impossible to cover the event in one attempt. The Texas Flying Legends Museum was proud to be a part of AirVenture this year as it has in past years. We look forward to the next time our fleet flies over Oshkosh!