The Liberty Gazette
August 5, 2008
August 5, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Mike: Last week we were leaving Indianapolis in the Cheetah and while getting fuel the pilot from another plane asked, “Headed for Oshkosh?” I went in to pay the hangar fees when someone else asked the same question. That’s the popular question this time of year, especially if one is found to be anywhere close to Wisconsin.
Many people have heard of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) airshow and fly-in event “AirVenture” in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Oshkosh is a week-long event where thousands of aircraft fly in and attendance reaches a million. Every day there are airshows, multitudes of static displays and fly-bys by all manner of aircraft from currently manufactured and amateur-built light general aviation aircraft, to World War II, Korean and Vietnam era military aircraft.
It is here where most general aviation manufacturers and even the FAA make major announcements. It is the “It” event of aviation for the year and is the largest and most highly attended convention in the world. This year it takes place from July 28th through August 3rd.
The EAA was formed in the 1950’s and grew into the organization it is today. In the early 70’s, the premier aviation venue was the “Reading Airshow” in Reading, Pennsylvania which in those days rivaled the bi-annual Paris Airshow for attendance. Somewhere around 12,000 people attended it daily and all the aviation Big Guns were present. Then something changed and the show pretty much ended in the early 80’s. It was then that Oshkosh began to grow and continues to do so. Local EAA Chapters have their own fly-ins and air shows, but this is the main event. And, as a pilot, it is “THE” event to attend at least once in your life. An associate of mine, John Hess, takes the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) Curtiss SBD2C-5 Helldiver there every year. And while the President of the EAA’s newest chapter here in Liberty normally attends, he won’t make it for business reasons this year. He says that each time he attends it is a unique experience.
Another unique aviation activity takes place September 10th through the 14th. The Reno Air Races, the fastest annual racing event in the world, will be held at Reno Stead Airport in Reno, Nevada. It’s another event that pilots and high speed sports addicts shouldn’t miss.
Linda: I have not yet been to Oshkosh, but someday… and until then, I guess that means more fly-ins here in Liberty. Meanwhile, sad news in aviation. Last week aviatrix extraordinaire, Margaret Ringenburg, passed away in her sleep. She was in Oshkosh to be honored for her years of service and her contributions to general aviation, to women, and to America as a WASP during WWII. I was privileged to meet Margaret during this year’s Air Race Classic. She and her race partner finished third in the race, just last month. I mentioned her in this column two weeks ago, and that I’d have more to say about this amazing woman.
I was honored to spend time with her on a couple of occasions during the air race, including a barbeque in Bozeman, Montana. She was an amazing lady, very humble and kind. What I loved most was watching how the men would crowd around her to hear her stories. It was comparable to a bunch of high school boys slobbering over a cheerleader, but in a much different, more respectable realm. Margaret was full of life and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have met and be inspired by her. She was 87.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.