Mass Arrivals Mark Opening Days Of AirVenture 2004
By ANN Contributor Christopher Armstrong
Almost as interesting as the flight demonstrations and static
displays as AirVenture 2004 begins is the mass arrival of aircraft
here. Hundreds of Piper Comanches, Beech Bonanzas, Mooneys and
Stinsons began arriving on Sunday.
Since 1990 when the American Bonanza Society members organized
their first "Bonanzas to Oshkosh" mass arrival so they could park
and camp together, several other aircraft type groups also arrive
en masse. The Bonanzas "B2OSH " was the biggest of these groups
again this year, arriving on Sunday with around 80 aircraft. That
was down from 132 in 1995, but impressive nonetheless. Group
arrivals have been limited to 100 planes since that record
The Bonanza flight departed from Rockford (IL), and the
formation was fully formed up about halfway to Oshkosh. The
B2OSH aircraft arrived in consecutive flights of three aircraft
with a leader and two wingmen.
The Mooney caravan also arrived Sunday with 42 planes.
This year the departure point was Madison-Dane County Regional
Airport (WI), 62 nautical miles from Oshkosh. Organizers of the
Mooney caravan intentionally limited the size of the event in 2003
to increase safety, after some pilots found themselves out of
position in the much larger formation.
Flying these large, loose formations
takes considerable planning and significant piloting skill.
The B2OSH group requires pilots who participate to have several
hours of formation flight time before participating, and they fly a
very specific formation. The Mooney flight uses a much looser
formation with greater aircraft spacing to ensure safety. But as
the formation got bigger some pilots inadvertently overtook the
lead aircraft. The reduced size and improved procedures adopted in
2003 resulted in a nearly flawless caravan.
This was only the second year for the Piper Comanche mass
arrival. Even so, 30 Comanches were expected. The Stinson
group arrived Monday (below) with between 25 and 30 planes. Other
aircraft type clubs are organizing and timing their flights to
arrive together for the show.
In addition to the general aviation mass
arrivals, the several formation flights of warbirds arrived Monday
including around 30 T-6 Texan trainers, and a flight of 15 CJ6
With over 10,000 aircraft expected to fly into Oshkosh this
year, the groups' efforts to organize prior to arrival so they all
get to Oshkosh at roughly the same time means parking is a bit more
orderly than in years past. This should be great not only for the
pilots who get to camp with their groups, but for airshow attendees
who can see and compare all of their favorite type of aircraft
without searching all over the airport.