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July 28, 2008

Oshkosh, an aviator's Mecca

Posted: 09:54 AM ET

The CNN SciTech Unit is taking the show on the road.

This week I’ll be in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for EAA AirVenture, the annual air show and aviation convention that hosts all-things-winged for one week in late July.

The Collaborators Aerobatic Team flying in a stacked formation at Oshkosh 2007. Source: EAA

The population of this charming town on Lake Winnebago nearly doubles as three-quarters of a million aviation enthusiasts and pilots descend, literally, for their yearly pilgrimage to the show known simply as “Oshkosh.” The usually sleepy Wittman Regional Airport will become home to the world’s busiest air traffic control tower, handling nearly 10,000 private airplanes that fly in and out of the event.

Expect to see the newest, cutting-edge airplanes—from frontline fighters like the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor, to new introductions into the very light jet market like designs from Eclipse, Honda, and Cirrus Design. Also, you won’t want to miss the afternoon air show, where the world’s most talented pilots put on a magnificent sky dance.

It’s a pilot’s mecca—a great American tradition, one that I’ve been taking part in since I was in grade school. But that tradition may be at risk this year. With prices for aviation fuel soaring over $5 per gallon, many pilots may be leaving their airplanes in the hangar and canceling their Oshkosh plans. A new hope may be on the horizon, though: greener alternatives, like biofuels and electric power, may set a new course for the aviation industry.

It’s yet to be seen whether the fleeting economy and increased expense of flying a private airplane will have a profound effect on the show’s attendance. Aviators are of a rare breed and it would take a lot more than hefty costs to stop many of my pilot friends from making their annual trip. As for me, I’ll be making my pilgrimage to Oshkosh once again this year—the fifth in my logbook—by air. Check back for updates from the show throughout the week on the SciTech blog.

See you at Oshkosh!

Pete Muntean - CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Aviation

Share this on:
Tom   July 28th, 2008 11:14 am ET

You were here!!

Meghan   July 28th, 2008 11:19 am ET

You were here.

ROBERT I. ASHBORN   July 28th, 2008 11:33 am ET

good article on oshkosh,
we will see you there, party of 4 coming in from ca. az, and nm.
31th till 4th.
keep us updated till we get there.

bob ashborn

Matt   July 28th, 2008 12:12 pm ET

Electric power for an aircraft? Are you crazy? It's not even practical for cars where weight is less critical and you only need about 20hp to cruise. Journalists!

Larian LeQuella   July 28th, 2008 1:11 pm ET

I'm jealous!

Agfr   July 28th, 2008 1:34 pm ET

The crude oil fueled, air cooled diesel powered truck will be arriving in Oshkosh in about 48 hours. For details visit:

Go to the end of the blog for details.

For more views of the truck visit:

I'll be around the SMO diesel aircraft engine display area.

Jacob   July 28th, 2008 2:28 pm ET

Electric power is one of many suitable aircraft alternatives. Do your research.

Brad   July 28th, 2008 3:11 pm ET

I read and am responding to your post as I sit in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight to OSHKOSH!

Unfortunately I must take the aluminum mailing tube (aka airlines) to get there until I complete my Vans RV-7.

Adam   July 28th, 2008 3:46 pm ET

I live in this area and work in the construction industry. Every year at this time i always get excited for working outside and seeing all the different aircraft fly through the area. From old bombers to new jets, for one week it sure is great to have EAA happen here.

Will   July 28th, 2008 4:34 pm ET

Actually, there are two electric powered motor gliders on the market today. I heard the makers of Sonex are about to release an electric airplane. I'm sure they'll have a prototype at Oshkosh. The engines are actually fine, it's the batteries that are the problem.

Tom   July 28th, 2008 4:38 pm ET


Before you completely rule out batteries, try this link:

Click on anything that says T-Rex 500. Remember as you watch, these things are carrying their own batteries.

These ain't your daddy's batteries. And tomorrow's will be even better.

Tom Lapointe   July 28th, 2008 6:21 pm ET

Electric power is CERTAINLY practical for aircraft, if anything, more so than cars. An experimental private electric plane has already debuted at a previous Oshkosh; just take a look at what's currently going on in the RC airplane & helicopter hobbies, where electric power is rapidly displacing a sizable portion of the older "glow-fuel" powered models. An RC pilot myself, I'm phasing out or remotoring my older planes in favor of full electric models. The best part of this is that the newer electric models (using lithium-ion batteries powering brushless motors – the same technology that powers the $100,000 Tesla Roadster) can actually OUTPERFORM internal-combustion engine powered models; 2-to-1 thrust / weight ratios are common (& they're QUIET as well!). Up-scaling the model technology to full-size aircraft is VERY possible! Tom

S Callahan   July 28th, 2008 7:59 pm ET

Larien, I'm with you.

Upstate New York, just outside Schenectady has a great air show each year.... this one sounds much larger...but they are all exciting to be around.

Perhaps gliders will be the thing of the future for short trips...can't imagine that working for Fed Ex though....

Franko   July 29th, 2008 1:05 am ET

Numerous Atomic battery designs for other applications.
Just a matter of time, before a 10 year long flight.

Matt   August 4th, 2008 9:26 am ET

Oh yeah, that's what I consider a suitable aircraft. 17 hp, 70mph, 1.5 hr duration. Killer! Apparently you've done my research for me there, Jacob. If that's the state of the art for electric aircraft then I rest my case.

Not one commenter could provide an example of an aircraft that even comes close to the performance of say a Cessna 152.

RC? Really? That's great, Tom, as long as you're a dust mite.

And atomic batteries? Are you talking the micro-amp or pico-amp range?

Jeff August   August 15th, 2008 11:34 pm ET

Sweet Pete! Game on.

taxiguy   May 26th, 2009 4:53 am ET

Fantastic and interesting forum will look through more a little later, i drive a taxi in Portugal so if anyone from this forum comes on holiday to the Algarve Portugal, come and have a coffee with me, and i can also let you know lots of history from the area...

Utircarcins   July 10th, 2009 6:49 pm ET

[b]Definately will not go to Vilamoura anymore, 6 Hour rounds of Golf and 4.5 Euros for a beer , we will stay clear of the Vilamoura golf courses this year, and the so called free shuttle bus turns up if you are lucky.[/b]

Libby Murray   August 11th, 2010 10:59 pm ET

the good thing about brushless motors is that they last longer compared to brushed ones~~`

Luis Howard   September 30th, 2010 2:39 pm ET

brushless motors are great because they require less maintennance and last longer*.:

Shower Cubicle    October 18th, 2010 2:52 pm ET

brushless motors can outperform those motors that still uses contact brushes~;`

Carpet Tiles ·   November 7th, 2010 2:20 pm ET

compuer fans are always made up of brushless motors because they last very long "

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