The Very Best (And Worst) of Oshkosh 2004! (Part Three)
Compiled By The Staff and Readership of the Aero-News
For quite a while, we
have recognized the highs and lows inherent in the general and
sport aviation community. There are but a few places where that is
more a propos than at a major event like the Oshkosh Fly-In.
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.
Unlike past years, ANN readers remarks were heavily incorporated
into ALL aspects of this report, and not just the Aircraft awards
and such. Their contributions are specifically noted when a
particular attribute is based primarily on an individual's
Our Annual Best Plane of the Year Selections (tentatively
announced after Oshkosh and finalized at year's end) will follow
this series shortly… we're having a REALLY hard time making
a decision this year - and the reasons might surprise you.
So... here are our picks for the Best and Worst of this year's
Oshkosh... and why we think so:
A True Gentleman of AirVenture
Jamail Larkins. Yes, I am biased on this vote
but it's my opinion, so there. I don't believe I have ever talked
to a young person (20 years old) with the intelligence, poise,
politeness and manners of Jamail Larkins but if he calls me Ms.
Vinas or ma'am again, I'm going to have to hurt him. It's Aleta, if
you please. His pathway into the aviation world is amazing and his
belief in giving back is unshakeable. His peers have called him an
"achiever" and "motivated." He is someone to keep an eye on, for
sure. (Aleta Vinas)
Greatest Improvement Over Previous Oshkosh's
The Whole Young Eagle
Experience. ANN Reader Ceci S. tells ANN that, "My best
experience at Oshkosh was volunteering for the Young Eagles, my
first time volunteering for them other than piloting Young Eagles
at my home base, Whiteman Airport in Southern California.
My first day volunteering at Oshkosh I drove around in the "Green
Machine" with Tandy (an experienced YE volunteer) looking for
pilots in the RV section. We got to chat with the pilots, asking if
they had flown Young Eagles. Most of them had. Most didn't have the
new materials, so we gave each of them an envelope with the updated
paperwork. All were enthusiastic about Young Eagles and taking them
up in their airplanes. Then, it started raining as we were driving
around uncovered, so we rushed back to the YE Pavilion for
My second day volunteering was at the Young Eagles Pavilion. I got
to meet Jamail, the noted former Young Eagle now flying aerobatics
in a Christian Eagle. An amazing teenager! Then, since they didn't
have anyone to give "ground school" to kids who were going up on
their Young Eagle flights, they asked me to talk to the kids. I got
to take 2 groups of children around an RV6A, a special airplane
owned by EAA and used to fly Young Eagles. Some of the kids were
enthusiastic, some not, but I tried to share with them my love of
flying and my enjoyment in flying children like them and they
seemed to respond to that. It was a beautiful day, and parents took
pictures and followed us around the airplane. I let the children
who wanted to sit in the airplane and put on the headsets--they
really enjoyed that! It was an honor to be asked to do the 'ground
school' for the new Young Eagles."
Dead Grass Award
Here we go again… Diamond DA42. This
thing ALWAYS had a crowd around it. Pity the people who have to
re-sod the area that this bird was kept.
- Runner(s)-Up: Cory Bird's Symmetry. This may
be the prettiest cusotm-built bird to show at Oshkosh in many
years... and the folks who surrounded it, nearly 24/7, seemed
The Steel Cojones Award
Bruce Bohannon and his technical support crew.
For attempting to break a world record the day after rebuilding a
damaged intake and exhaust system due to the turbocharger eating
something on the flight to Oshkosh. It's too bad they missed the
cracked waste gate flange, or they may have gotten the record. Next
year, for sure!
The 'Lazarus' Award
Symphony Aircraft… Once thought to be
nearly dead, there is new life in this excellent little airplane
series. We hope it continues to survive… it's a great
The Coolest Aircraft at OSH 2004
Lancair Columbia 400: 235kts... 25,000 feet...
four seats... sexy looks. That's a LOT of performance packed into a
single four-seater. You're going to see a LOT of these over the
next few years... but we sure can't wait for a pressurized
The Sexiest Aircraft at OSH 2004
TBM 700. (In your best Pepe le Pew voice): "Ah,
cherie, zees can only be ze Socata TBM-700, she whisks you to your
lover's side at ze 300 knots een ze Eurostyle..."
The Cat's Shepherd Award
Oshkosh Tower's Ground Controllers. The minute
the daily airshow ended, these guys had an amazing task to
perform... and they did it admirably.
The Reality Check Award
The Luscombe War. Will the two factions warring
over Luscombe please wake up and smell the coffee? Ain't gonna be
much left for anyone if this keeps up much longer.
The Patience Of A Saint Award
Surviving SportPlane Manufacturers. After years
of association hype and government delays... Sport Pilot is real...
if a bit ham-strung. The manufacturers who hung in through all this
are hoping for a renaissance in the sport aviation industry... if
the medical issues don't keep too many senior flyers away. Kudos to
those who survived the hype and stuck it out... we hope it was
worth the wait. Time will tell.
Things We Got To See Because of Our Press Pass
All the airshow performer's kids playing soccer in the
hangar, in the middle of all the airshow performer'
planes, while Sean D. Tucker gave a quick preflight brief to the
pilots and photographers for a post airshow air to air 6 plane
formation photo shoot. (Chris Armstrong)
Best Kept Secret
The Vette Seaplane Base. Picturesque, peaceful
and well-supported; the nearby seaplane base is one of the Oshkosh
area's best aeronautically oriented secrets.
Highest Price Food Item
A $6 Salad… with fake cheese. Nuff
- Runner(s)-Up: High-priced glasses of Lemonade,
up half a buck to $3.50.
To Be Continued...