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Mon, Sep 22, 2014

Best of Show! The Very Best/Worst of Oshkosh '14! (Part 1)

Compiled By The Staff and Readership of the Aero-News Network, Airborne, and Aero-TV (Part 1)

For quite a while, we have recognized the highs and lows inherent in the general and sport aviation community -- and yes, we’ve had a bit of fun in the process--especially as we went through our notes, read all YOUR comments, and put together our thoughts on what has turned out to be one of the most successful aviation events in a long while.

There are but a few places where that is more apropos than at a major event like the Oshkosh Fly-In -- a place where one can take a solid read on the heart and soul of aviation. It's hard to know what really is going to make a difference and what really qualifies as exceptional unless you've been watching this industry carefully for several years... as we have.

Over the last few years, ANN reader's remarks have been heavily incorporated into ALL aspects of this report, and not just the Aircraft awards and such. YOUR contributions have been carefully considered and (in many cases) incorporated into our annual summation. This year, comments from several hundred readers were part of the process -- which, as usual, took a lot longer than we planned -- but none-the-less benefitted from the extra time, consideration, and input.

ANN Thanks its readers, staff and supporters for their input to this year’s listings... in particular, ANN appreciates the input and assistance of Masako Campbell, Tom Patton, Earl Downs, Nathan Cremisino, Ashley Hale, Michael Maya Charles, Dave Juwel, Gene Yarbrough, Maxine Scheer, Eric Van Gilder, John Ylinen, Jordan Spradley, Dan Billingsley, Bruce Brandon, Melissa McClain, Tom Woodward, Karen Woodward, Maria Morrison, Roland Delhomme, and Katherine Tryon.

The full list of our Annual Best Plane of the Year Selections (tentatively announced after Oshkosh and finalized at year's end) will await the end of the year. So; here are our picks for the Best and Worst of this year's Oshkosh... and why we think so...

The “Big” Story(s): One Week Wonder. While the competition for this category was tight, there is no doubt that the One Week Wonder attracted and inspired a great many people. The project gave everyone who stopped by, the opportunity to be a part of the unique experience of building an aircraft and helped introduce new people to aviation. It also encompassed the community aspect of home building by uniting everyone involved. This needs to be a regular attraction at OSH.

If it’s not possible to do another complete airplane project, consider the same area could have dedicated volunteers working on portions of an airplane but it would not be a contest for completion. One group could be doing metalwork, one fabric, and so on. While an argument could be made that people can simply attend the forums, having something going on that people walk by all the time could draw more interest in attendees that don’t know enough to attend the forum. (ANN Staff) 

Co-Winner: The Successful Conclusion Of An Expanded Oshkosh 2014. Don’t let anyone kid you... Oshkosh is not what it once was. Numbers are a bit behind the hey-days of yesteryear and the issues raised in keeping this event going, successfully, remain ponderous and difficult... BUT this year, Oshkosh showed signs of renewed life... with more airplanes, more attendees and most definite sense of a better business climate. Pray that this continues, because our industry needs all the good news it can get. (ANN Staff/Readers)

Runner(s)-Up: Huerta blows It. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta makes no announcement/guarantees regarding the 3rd Class Medical, because not only did it disappoint pretty much everyone in attendance, but also because there was no guarantee it wouldn't get lost in the bureaucratic process. Worse... he keeps stating that there is a process that needs to be followed... when it clearly obvious to one and all that the process is broken and has stopped being of value to the aviation world long ago. Mr. Huerta... the FAA is busted. Fix it or get out of our way. (ANN Staff/Readers)

The Story We Wished We Could Have Missed: FAA’s Insistence on Multiple Payments For ATC Services. EAA still had to pay FAA to provide Controllers for Oshkosh, even though the two entities settled upon a questionable agreement, the fact that they are still having to pay for what is already paid for by the citizenry is still ridiculous. The FAA should be ashamed of themselves...

Runner(s)-Up: Cirrus Evades/Fibs At Press Conference. No surprise here... but do they really believe that we’re fooled by their nonsense... after all the fibs we’ve heard before? Really?

Runner(s)-Up: Airplanes flying into Wittman field at Oshkosh during AirVenture were not able to buy mogas. What’s the deal with that? We did pick up on a few gripes about this from some friends that we encountered.  

Oshkosh Show Stealer(s) #1: USAF Thunderbirds. You cannot talk about what rocked without talking about the Thunderbirds. I heard some people grumble that they took too much airspace for not a very exciting show, but that was the minority. There is no denying that they brought the crowds, (especially non-pilots), which means more money and enthusiasm. A rising tide floats all boats. And if you are a little kid, you can't help but get excited about aviation after seeing them perform. We saw one of their performances from the North 40, and it was no less exciting. More than once as they ripped through the sky at a low level, I let out a yell that I couldn't control. I was 10 years old all over again. (ANN Reader)

Oshkosh Show Stealer(s) #2: EAA Volunteers. I think I’ve made Oshkosh 9 out of the last 10 years, and maybe it comes from marvelling at how the whole week comes together and having more insights behind the scenes, but this year it really hit me: this is aviation’s big family reunion and a lot of great folks make it happen, often unrecognized by those who’ve come to see this act or buy that new item or visit with friends, Whatever brings you to Oshkosh, whatever your experience, it’s all made possible by a bunch of folks who endure long hours, blazing heat, wind, rain, and everything half a million guests can throw at them. None of it happens at all without a remarkable network of people who pour their time and money into pulling it off, and whatever we might want to change about it, be it gate fees, vendors, the cost of doing business, the volunteers consistently shine, rise above every challenge. Oshkosh is where aviation puts its best foot forward; with their diverse backgrounds, remarkable talent and high esprit de corps, enthusiasm and endless good humor, EAA’s volunteers reflect the best of what we’re all about-not just EAA, but aviation on a whole. (ANN Staff)

MUCH More To Come...

Hey ANN Readers! It's NOT too late to let us know what YOU think! Let's hear from YOU, our readers and viewers, about the all the highs and lows YOU experienced in your examination of what is still the greatest airshow on Earth, warts and all.

FMI: Best/Worst of Oshkosh 2014 Comments? Complaints? Additions? Let Us Have It!


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