Today marks 18 years since 9/11, one of the darkest days in aviation history.
Of course, we should remember those who died in 2001. But let me use today to highlight a more cheerful facet of aviation: the air show.
Oshkosh has the most varied air show of which I am aware and 2019 provided a lot of great experiences.
Mike Goulian demonstrated the most athletic and gyroscopic performance in a single airplane. An aerobatics expert companion rated him #1 among the performers for sheer flying skill.
The Rock Mountain Renegades were the most thought-provoking daytime act. They answer the questions “What if civilians did all of the same stuff as the Blue Angels, but at 1/3 to 1/2 the speed? And in airplanes that they built themselves?” They fly RV kit airplanes and, except for the lack of earplug-level noise, deliver a lot of the same thrills. One odd choice, especially given the use of homebuilt airplanes, is the use of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” song, which includes lyrics regarding “suicide machines” and “death trap.”
On the slower-paced and elegant side of things, Patty Wagstaff was great as usual, as were Jim Pietz in his Bonanza(!) and David Martin in his Baron(!!!). Martin just finished flying every day for 5 years (1826 days in a row).
The night airshow was awe-inspiring. The Twin Tigers delivered something so unusual that you have to watch the video. Nate Hammond was back in his Super Chipmunk (video). There was a SubSonex Jet that proved a homemade turbojet can do aerobatics at night… while spewing fireworks (and piloted by Bob Carlton, well into AARP territory). Redline proved that homebuilt RV kit planes do the same… in formation.
If reflecting on 9/11 has you down on aviation, maybe plan a trip to Oshkosh 2020 as an antidote.