The art and technology behind aerial stunts is celebrated this coming Monday with the largest gathering of airplanes in the world:
Only a handful of events can pull off the single name thing and get away with it. Indy. LeMans. Daytona. Their aviation equivalent is Oshkosh. Mention the word to pilots and aviation buffs, and they’ll know you’re not talking about the overalls you wore as a kid.
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is the site of the annual AirVenture aviation show, the largest gathering of aircraft and aircraft fanatics in the world. It’s where the past meets the present and everyone glimpses the future, as some 10,000 aircraft take to the air beginning Monday.
“If it has flown, is flying or will fly, it will show up at Oshkosh,” Dick Knapinski, a spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association, told Wired.com. The EAA has been hosting the annual show since the first gathering in Milwaukee 56 years ago.
It’s an exciting time for the aviation sector, a feeling that will be reflected in Oshkosh as more than half a million people look to the future. Electric airplanes, flying cars and even a jet pack or two will share the tarmac with a replica of the Wright Brothers flyer, World War II–era warplanes and the massive Airbus A380 jumbo jet.
For one week in July, the air traffic control tower at Wittman Regional Airport is the busiest in the world.
The show draws participants and spectators from 65 countries who come to to see the latest innovations in aviation. This year the buzz, to steal a pun from the automotive world, is about electric airplanes. As we reported earlier this week, electric aircraft are the focus of tremendous development effort around the world right now. Advocates of electric aircraft say the rechargeable planes address concerns over rising fuel costs, CO2 emissions and the noise complaints that often plague pilots.
“Years from now, if we want to have the freedom to fly, we’ll have to remove all social barriers,” Tom Peghiny told Wired.com. “Whether that’s air pollution, noise pollution, bothering other people, we’re going to have to remove those barriers in order to keep our freedom to fly.”