Fireworks cap the festivities at AirVenture, an aircraft convention happening this week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Fireworks cap the festivities at AirVenture, an aircraft convention happening this
week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Flying High

Never mind O’Hare. This week, the Oshkosh Wittman Regional Airport becomes home to the world’s busiest landing strip, as roughly 10,000 planes fly in for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Fly-In Convention, a.k.a. AirVenture 2011. Want to check out a flying car, ride in a vintage World War II bomber, or meet the sound-barrier-breaking pilot Chuck Yeager? Head for Oshkosh, where more than 500,000 flight enthusiasts are expected for daily air shows, aerial aerobatics, aerospace and airplane related forums, workshops, and demonstrations. Events are ongoing throughout the weekend; here, an abbreviated three-day itinerary of highlights:


  • 10 a.m.: Check out a flying car. Steve Saint and Troy Townsend will discuss their “terrafugia prototype,” a road-legal, easy to operate vehicle that can travel in water, on land, and through the air.
  • 3:30 p.m.: Look to the skies. A team of female skydivers and World War II vintage warcraft will fly overhead.
  • 8 p.m.: Hang out with Gary Sinise. The Steppenwolf ensemble member and his Lt. Dan Band perform.


  • Starting at 7 a.m.: Take a trip. Passenger seats are available for rides in a B-17 flying fortress American bomber (by reservation, $399 to $465); a Bell 47 helicopter (from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., $45); and a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, the first mass-produced airliner (7 a.m. to 6 p.m., $70).
  • 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Check out the Wright Brothers Simulator. At the Federal Pavilion, visitors can experience the pioneering 1911 flight of Orville and Wilbur, courtesy of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance’s 1911 Wright B Simulator.
  • 8:45 p.m.: Watch the “Wall of Fire” light up. The convention’s signature show—a combination of precision flying acrobatics and fireworks—will be followed by a meet-and-greet with pilot performers.


  • 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Visit a World War II encampment. Volunteers from the Warbirds Living History Group—outfitted with authentic period uniforms, flight gear, cots, and tents—will set up a replica of a World War II encampment.
  • 9 a.m.: Learn how to build your own. Veteran plane-builder Tim Hoversten will show you how to start building a personal aircraft.
  • 2 p.m.: Watch the air show. Performing planes include parachute launchers, military bombers, and skydivers.
  • 7:30 p.m.: Explore parachute power. A rainbow of multicolored parachutes will drop launches from the Ultralite Runway.

GO AirVenture at the OshKosh Wittman Regional Airport’s EAA Aviation Center, 3000 Poberezny Rd., Oshkosh, Wisconsin; 920-426-4800, Daily admission tickets are $37; veterans, $17; students, $20; children under six, free

Where to stay: The Hilton Garden Inn (1355 W. 20th Ave.; 920- 966-1300) is right next door to the Experimental Aircraft Association Aviation Center and Museum. Rates are more expensive during AirVenture at $429 per night. Private homes near the convention site are also available for rent; to see a roster of them, call the Oshkosh Visitors Bureau at 920-235-3007 or

Where to dine: Fratellos Waterfront Brewery & Restaurant (1501 Arboretum Dr.; 920-232-2337, offers handcrafted beers, Fox River views, and a solid menu of steaks and seafood. The Boat Yard Bar and Grill (425 Nebraska St.; 920-230-6900, isn’t fancy, but it specializes in hearty lunchtime sandwiches.