Sunday, July 24, 2011

And So It Begins

All the waiting is over, the time is here to leave for Oshkosh. Friday night, July 22nd we loaded the truck to prepare for an early departure in the morning. We plan to leave at 6:00 am and try to get to Oshkosh in time to set up camp before dark. We did depart right on time with only one stop before hitting the road. We filled the ice chests and left Murray at 6:15.
The Google maps indicated around 10 hours of drive time which for the first two-thirds of the way was right on target. We chose a route to take a bypass around most of Chicago, hoping it would save us time. That plan may have been better than the direct route through the city but we hit construction and a lot of traffic delays costing us about an hour. We also had some bad luck choosing a place for lunch and lost another  hour trying to eat. We finally made it in to Oshkosh around 5:45 and hit another line of campers registering. We finally got registered and were told that all the  good camping spots were taken leaving us with a spot a lot farther away from the flight line than we wanted but we did get fairly close to a shower facility and water supply. We were able to get the tent and camp sight set up before dark and just ate a ham and cheese sandwich before bedding down for the night.
Sometime during the night we were awakened by huge gusts of wind and rain.We thought we were going to lose everything  and looked out to see our canopy being destroyed. We ran out to try to save it but it was too late as the frame was broken and not repairable so we would have no shelter other than the tent from the sun during the day. When we woke on Sunday morning we saw we were not the only ones who suffered damages. A number of canopies were down and several Porta-Potties were turned over so we were fortunate not have lost the tent also.

Woke this morning, Sunday, to better weather and Andy cooked us a great breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast. Got the camp site straightened up, showered and headed out for the flight line. We did find they were running shuttle buses from the campground to the activity centers which saved us a lot of walking.
Getting off the bus we headed down to the vintage aircraft area to see what was already here as the show doesn't really start until Monday.

Bleriot 1909 Flyer
Fairchild FC-2W AirmailPlane for Mail & Passengers

Another early airmail craft

The first thing we saw was a tribute to the airmail service with numerous aircraft on display. Several of the images here are of those aircraft with the oldest being  from 1909. moving further down the area we saw aircraft of every type and vintage. I am sure we will return to this area later in the week so look for more pictures then. Also walked through the ultra-lite area. The guys who fly these things are a lot braver than I as it is like flying beneath a big kite on a lawn chair.
Leaving here we rode a shuttle that took us to the Warbird area and I was astonished at the number already here with more to come later. Most impressive to me was the sheer number of the old WWII fighter aircraft that have been restored to better shape than when they left the factories in the 1940's. We saw a beautiful Corsair come in and move to it's display area followed by a P-51 Mustang.  We also saw a British Spitfire which was the hottest plane the British had to protect England during the 1940 battle of Britain. Just down from it sat a FW-190 Luftwaffe fighter that fought against the Spitfires during this crucial time before the US entered the war. As a matter of fact when we did enter the war in 1941, many American flyers had joined the RAF  flying the Spitifires and were merely transferred to the US Army Air Force with their British Spitfires until the US could get enough aircraft produced and delivered to our guys.

Below are a few of the early arrivals in the Warbird Alley

A line of P-51 Mustangs

A P-40 of the famed Flying Tigers
British Spitfire

Folke-Wolfe FW-190 German Fighter

Me at the famous Brown Arch - Gateway to the EAA Flightline

Made our pictures in front of the Famous EAA Arch above. I was just overwhelmed with the size of this event and even after after only one quick day we have seen very little. Anyone who loves flying and aircraft should make it a point to come to this event at least once. Nothing else even comes close to what will be seen here. The event staff are great. Everyone is helpful and the attendees are very friendly and helpful. I cannot imagine the total attendance at this even but I have never seen or been to anything this large.
I will try to get this posted to the blog tonight and add more later.

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