Photos and Video: Top 10 Best of Everything at EAA Airventure 2011
Farmers Airship Zeppelin and EAA Helicopters: For $399, the Farmers Airship was offering 45 minute rides above Oshkosh and the Wisconsin dairyland. Or for $45, you could view the grounds aboard a vintage Bell helicopter. Good times either way.
Best Hollywood Star
George Lucas: The megadirector and creator of the Star Wars franchise was on hand to present a trailer for a new film he executive produced about the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails. There was no shortage of A-listers on hand, including a pilot named Harrison Ford, who introduced a screening of his 1994 movie, Clear and Present Danger, and Forrest Gump star Gary Sinise led his Lt. Dan Band in an evening concert.
Best Car Painted Like a Plane
2012 Ford Blue Angels Mustang: Ford had one of the largest displays at Oshkosh this year and smack in the middle was their blue jewel on wheels, the 2012 Ford Blue Angels Mustang. For the sixth straight year, the motor company (which also made planes in the 1930s and 1940s) built a custom Mustang to be auctioned off to benefit the EAA Young Eagles, a program which helps children get involved in aviation. In honor of the 100 Years of Naval Aviation celebration, This year’s edition was an homage to the Blue Angels, painted with a stunning liquid blue finish and “screaming yellow” accents, even shinier than the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets flown by the US Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron. The one-of-a-kind car sold for $400,000 at auction on Wednesday to a buyer described only as “a man from California.” (The winner of the “Best Hollywood Star” prize above, a noted car collector and photographed wearing a Ford baseball cap, seems like a good suspect.)
Best Plane That Drives Like a Car
Terrafugia Transition: Weekend aviators have probably dealt with one question more than any other on short trips: How do you get around town once you land your plane? Terrafugia hopes to solve that conundrum with the Transition, which is more “readable aircraft” than “flying car.” The two-seater can carry you, a friend and a bag of golf clubs up to 490 miles, buzzing over your friends on the interstate while cruising up to 100 mph. Once you touch the four-wheeled gear to the tarmac, a touch of a button folds the wings. Your plane is now about the size of a midsize pickup truck and you drive off the ramp to the course. Best part: It falls under the FAA’s newly designated “light sport” aircraft category, which means it only takes 20 hours of training to get a license. But that convenience will come at a price. Terrafugia expects deliveries to start in 2012 at a cool $250,000
Best Plane Made by a Car Company
HondaJet: Any chance of trading in a Civic for one of these when the lease is up?
Honda Asimo: Honda’s walking robot showed off its soccer skills, walked up and down steps and even sprinted across the stage, all on two legs and startlingly humanlike. It made the stationary robot Ford had on display look like a Nintendo R.O.B.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner: We had a ton of fun onboard the JetBlue Airbus A320 and the Southwest Boeing 737-700 that made their way to Oshkosh, but nothing beats a glimpse inside a new airliner that isn’t even in service yet.
Best Fighter Plane Demo
The warbird formations were beautiful, but the US Marine Corps McDonnell-Douglas AV-8B Harrier II performed a sort of solo aerial ballet for the crowd on Friday afternoon, hovering and spinning in place as if it were a helicopter…a really, really loud, really, really fast helicopter.
Most Unique Paint Scheme
F/A-18 Super Hornet “Digi-Cam”: Painted in digital camouflage as a tribute to the uniforms of the sailors who keep these birds in the air.
Best Turboprop Doing a Tupolev Tu-144 Impression
Beechcraft Starship: Of the 53 Burt Rutan-designed Starships built in the ’80s and ’90s, only five airworthy copies remain in the FAA database. The composite material fuselage without a horizontal tail, combined with the forward mounted horizontal stabilizers and rear-facing engines were an unprecedented design, and it was the first business aircraft to feature an all-glass cockpit.