Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015 – Madison, Wisconsin

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap, Warbirds | 0

B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015

Madison, Wisconsin was the place to be this year for those who wanted to see some warbirds just before EAA AirVenture 2015. Featuring over a dozen rare and unique World War II aircraft, Heavy Bombers Weekend offered fans a great up-close view of aircraft including the B-29 Superfortress, B-17 Flying Fortress, T-6 Texan, and P-51 Mustang. The majority of the aircraft stopped at Dane County Regional Airport on their way to Oshkosh from points all around the country, creating quite an assorted gaggle of types.

As the doors opened at 9:00 am on Friday, fans began trickling in and, in many cases, headed straight for the B-29 Superfortress, “Fifi”. Fifi is currently the only flying B-29 Superfortress in the world (pending the flight readiness of ‘Doc’, another B-29 that is being restored). Others formed a line to go on a tour through EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast”. Rides could be purchased in most of the aircraft, ranging from the T-6 to the P-51 to the B-29. Some were not offering rides but were selling merchandise. A few small booths also offered food, drinks, and trinkets. The event continued Saturday and Sunday.

B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" Sunset - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015

Make no mistake, the event is not an airshow. Regular traffic at the busy airfield continued throughout the day and the only flights were done for the passengers. Luckily, the B-17, T-6, and P-51 were kept busy with rides throughout the day; even more flights took place over the weekend. Any break in the warbird traffic was filled by airliners and general aviation aircraft. Several UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the National Guard base on the other side of the field flew throughout the day. Eventually EAA’s Ford Trimotor, which had been kept away by dismal weather the day before, arrived and started offering the cheapest rides of the event. Unfortunately, it blew an engine after just a few flights and had to be tucked away for repairs. Perhaps the biggest arrival of the day was the PB4Y-2 Privateer, the last of its kind still flying today. The PB4Y-2 is a naval patrol version of a B-24 Liberator, with a single tail configuration rather than the original twin tail. It served as a patrol bomber during World War II and the Korean War and will be a major attraction at AirVenture in the days to come.

B-17, B-29, PB4Y-2 - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015

The volunteers did a tremendous job of organizing the event. EAA Chapter 93 provided the volunteers to monitor the ramp and keep spectators off of the active portion. Wisconsin Aviation allowed the use of their impressive facilities, even while dealing with the normal aircraft traffic. The ramp was kept active, but spectators were given plenty of space and time to wander among the aircraft. Many of the crew were nearby to answer questions and swap stories.

Stearman Sunset - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015B-29 Superfortress "Fifi" - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015

Although the event closed at 5:00 pm, AirshowStuff was allowed on the ramp at sunset and into the night for a special photo shoot. We need to thank Pete Buffington, Jeff Davis, and Wisconsin Aviation for this incredible opportunity!

B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" Star Trails - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015B-29 Superfortress "Fifi" Star Trails - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015

B-29 Superfortress "Fifi" Star Trails - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015

EAA AirVenture 2015: Exciting Announcements

posted in: Airshows, Military, Warbirds | 0

USMC AV-8B Harrier

EAA has made some exciting announcements recently regarding featured aircraft and performers at AirVenture 2015. Of course AirVenture is always packed with special things, but here are some of the biggest unveils of late.

USMC Harrier Demo

AirVenture will be getting some additional jet noise thanks to the inclusion of the US Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier demonstration. The vertical takeoff and landing jump jet will perform at just nine total events in 2015, so it is a rare treat and a change from 2014, when the Marines brought a CV-22 Osprey to perform in Oshkosh.

PB4Y-2 Privateer

Maybe the most exciting news, given its rarity, is that the world’s only flying PB4Y-2 Privateer, a naval patrol variant of the B-24 Liberator, will be appearing at AirVenture in 2015. The aircraft was supposed to make the trip from Arizona to Oshkosh last year, but engine trouble canceled the trip. However, 2014 did feature the B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil”, one of only two flying B-24s left.

Avro Lancaster - Canadian Warplane Heritage MuseumB-25 Mitchell "Hot Gen" - Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

Avro Lancaster and B-25 Mitchell

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario has announced that their Avro Lancaster and B-25 Mitchell will be appearing at AirVenture this year. The Lancaster is the only one flying in North America, and one of only two in the world. The other is based in the UK. This is the Lancaster’s third appearance at AirVenture, following previous visits in 2006 and 2009.

The F-22 Raptor Returns

The USAF’s F-22 Raptor demo team will return to Oshkosh, but will be prevented from putting on a full display due to the limited aerobatic box. You may remember that several changes, such as pushing the crowd line back, had to be made last year in order for the USAF Thunderbirds to perform. The Raptor will instead perform a Heritage Flight with at least one warbird at AirVenture, although you can probably expect a ‘mini-demo’ of several non-aerobatic passes. It will be based in Milwaukee and fly its full demonstration routine for the Milwaukee Air and Water Show there. The appearance in Oshkosh will be a homecoming for Raptor demo pilot Captain John “Taboo” Cummings, who is a native of nearby Appleton, WI.

F-22 Raptor and P-51 Mustang - USAF Heritage FlightB-29 Superfortress "Fifi"

B-29 Superfortress “Fifi”

No stranger to AirVenture in the last few years, but a special guest nonetheless, the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress “Fifi” will return to the show in 2015. Making this especially tantalizing is the possible appearance of what would be the second flying Superfortress, “Doc”. “Doc” is currently completing a lengthy restoration in Kansas and may be flying by the time AirVenture rolls around. Needless to say, getting the would-be only two flying B-29s in the world together would truly be amazing.

As you can see, there are a lot of special reasons to attend AirVenture in 2015!