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Flying Eye Hospital Returns to EAA AirVenture and ORBIS to Announce Details of MD-10 2013 Launch!

Aviation enthusiasts are abuzz with the upcoming EAA AirVenture Convention - the world’s largest airshow – taking place July 23-29, 2012 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This year, ORBIS International’s Flying Eye Hospital (FEH), a literal hospital with wings, returns to AirVenture for the third time and on an unprecedented scale.

The FEH will be the largest plane at the airshow and the only offering a behind-the-scenes look at the interior of an aircraft. Visitors can tour the FEH, which is a result of a unique and lasting alliance forged between the medical and aviation industries. The specially designed and converted DC-10 aircraft allows the ORBIS team and Volunteer Faculty to provide hands-on training to local eye care professionals and convey the latest medical knowledge to treat patients and restore sight.

ORBIS will be holding an onsite press conference on Wednesday, July 25th at 1:00pm CT to discuss the organization’s mission to save sight worldwide as well as plans to replace the existing FEH with a new and improved MD-10 aircraft in 2013.

Please save the date and we will be following up with more details very soon.

More details on ORBIS are available at


Mechal Weiss at [email protected] or (646) 201-3733
Lindsay Evans at [email protected] or (646) 234-0011

Airplanes fuel the passion 365 days a year in Oshkosh

Throughout many communities in the United States, it is always football season. Here in Kentucky, it is always basketball season.

It is another sport of sorts however (alongside the Packers) that dominates the calendar in eastern Wisconsin. In addition to sometimes being a sport, it is also a hobby, a mode of travel and a way of life.

Simply put, the folks that put on Airventure spend the entire year preparing for the EAA’s weeklong grand festival in Oshkosh, Wisc.

As soon as crews finished cleaning the grounds at Wittman Regional Airport in early August, they tilted their sites to the upcoming 59th annual celebration of all things aviation that takes place next July. And it will take every day in between for them to get everything ready for takeoff.

Last week, a mere two months after Oshkosh 2010 wrapped up, organizers put out an announcement touting some of the air show highlights we can expect in 2011.


"The planning for events at Airventure never really stops. We just catch our breath for a few days after the end of each year's fly-in," said Tom Poberezny, who continues to be active as Airventure chairman, said in a statement from the EAA. "Expectations are always high for what's going to be at Oshkosh each year, and we're making sure that those expectations for excitement, innovation and value are met and exceeded."

Highlights for 2011 include celebrating the centennial anniversaries of naval aviation and airmail service, along with return of the popular nighttime air show and fireworks display for a second year.

Organizers also say they will improve the grounds itself, upgrading drainage systems in parts of the airfield that became swampland this past summer after being pummeled by record rainfall prior to the event. Areas of particular focus include exhibit areas, aircraft parking and Camp Scholler.

Less than 75 days removed from the last Airventure, all this already is under way for next year’s show. It starts July 25, a little more than 291 days away.

Of course, the planning will not stop there either. The 2012 show begins July 23; the 2013 show on July 29…..

In Oshkosh, it’s always airplane season.

NTSB issues preliminary report on Roush Airventure crash; update on injuries he received

The NTSB issued its preliminary report late last week into the Beechcraft Premier crash landing of NASCAR team owner Jack Roush that occurred last month during EAA Airventure 2010 in Oshkosh, Wisc.

It cites amateur video taken during the incident, which hospitalized Roush and a passenger with serious but not life-threatening injuries. The agency said in its report that the video shows Roush’s aircraft overshot the centerline of the runway after a left base turn for final “before entering a slight right bank simultaneously as the nose of the airplane pitched up.”

“The airplane then turned left toward the runway centerline and began a descent,” the preliminary report continues. “During this descent the airplane’s pitch appeared to increase until the airplane entered a right bank and struck the grass area west of the runway in a nose down, right wing low attitude.”

The report indicated that no mechanical failure of any sort is suspected as a factor.

Roush spoke to media this weekend, saying that the proposed path of his flight conflicted with that of another aircraft. However, the NTSB preliminary report did not make mention of this. [more]

I was put in conflict with the flight plan of another airplane close to the ground, and I was unable to address the conflict and keep the airplane flying,” Roush is quoted as saying to the AOL web publication Motorsports. “I ground-looped the airplane.”

On, an MP3 posted of the Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) air traffic control tower recording indicates that one controller doubted whether Roush could complete the instructions he received. This NTSB preliminary report also does not mention this.

Roush’s facial injuries received in the crash are discussed at further length in the Motorsports article, including his losing sight in one eye and suffering a broken jaw.  Shortly after being transported to a local Wisconsin hospital, Roush was relocated to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

UPDATE: AvWeb now reports that the voice saying, "don't think so," on the ATC recording likely is Roush himself.

An update on the Cobalt Co50


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Before heading to Oshkosh, we posted a preview of what to expect from startup company Cobalt, which unveiled a prototype of its Co50 piston pusher canard at Airventure last month.


On the final day of the festival, as vendor began to take down tents all across Wittman Regional Airport, we spoke with a couple representatives of the company.


The prototype that accompanied a press conference given by the company earlier in the week sat at the center of the Cobalt tent. An empty shell at the rear of the aircraft, pictured above, noted in orange tape that a production model would feature in that spot a twin-turbocharged TCM TSIOF-550-D2B with Powerlink FADEC that will crank out 350 HP to a Hartzell 3-blade propeller.


Designers estimate the aircraft can cruise at 245 KTAS at 8,000 feet for a range of more than 1,240 miles.


Cobalt representatives, including a lead engineer of the project, told us that their plan still calls for obtaining FAR 23 certification within the next few months in order for testing to begin by the end of the year.


Assuming all goes well, production could begin by 2012 or so, they said.


A proposed interior for the aircraft includes five-and four-point seat belt harnesses strapped into 18g crash-resistant bucket seats.


Airventure also provided Cobalt staff an opportunity to meet with parts manufacturers and other suppliers, which they said led to talks on avionics equipment and landing gear perhaps to be featured in the Co50.


Also expect the French company to open a United States headquarters in San Francisco. A final assembly site has yet to be determined.

EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2010 Photos and Highlights: Friends, Flying and Flooding


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On Sunday, the day before Airventure officially kicked off, we jumped off a local shuttle to find an astonishingly empty North 40. Land traditionally packed with tents and planes remained wide open, a rarity. Small pockets of enthusiasts sat in chairs lined up by the runway fences. They listened to ATC frequencies on handheld radios as scores of incoming pistons, warbirds and tail draggers received instructions to “land on the green dot” one after another after another, like winged clockwork.

Personnel operating the world’s busiest control tower just as well should have told the pilots to land next to the giant swamp to the left of them, for that is what anything at the airport not paved with concrete resembled as the world’s largest aviation gathering began. Eastern Wisconsin endured enough rain in the prior weeks to warrant construction of a giant ark, perhaps one with a landing strip.

The ground dried out later in the week beneath mostly beautiful weather. The early conditions put many planes into alternate airports (more than 10,000 landed in the immediate region for the week) and filled up tie-down spots at nearby FBOs. It cancelled or diminished several planned events, and it perhaps played a role reduced attendance figures.

EAA president Tom Poberezny called it the most challenging to prepare in his 35 years. This year’s crowd of 535,000 missed the 2009 attendance figure but still outpaced Airventure’s turnout from two years ago. Sunshine and 80-degree temperatures on most days rewarded those who bared messy, early days and the show went onward.

This year’s EAA Airventure brought with it plenty of memories, most good, such as a first-ever nighttime air show and fireworks display and mass arrival of a flock of DC-3s, resembling the Berlin Airlift. A tragic memory or two, though, happened to slip into the picture. A crash of NASCAR team owner and longtime pilot Jack Roush left many at the show scratching their heads and saying their prayers.

Roush, piloting a Beechcraft Premier Jet, appeared to overshoot his runway and clipped a wing on the ground, leading to a hard landing that broke the jet in two and hospitalized him with facial injuries. The incident spurred plenty of discussion amongst attendees throughout the remainder of the week, including conflicting witness accounts of what exactly happened. However, all agreed that Roush and those on the ground were quite fortunate that things turned out no worse than they did. No fatalities and no crowd injuries made a tough moment seem not as tough.

Cobalt's Co50 prototype

New feats of technology were on display throughout the week, as flyers and enthusiasts celebrated milestones and anniversaries of older aircraft. Cobalt showed off a prototype of its Co50 canard piston it plans to test late this year, as General Electric sponsored an electric aircraft symposium. The 75th anniversary of the DC-3 was commemorated alongside the 50th of the Piper Cherokee.

The 2010 Airventure theme centered upon a Salute to Veterans, which saw hundreds of service members, past and present, gather side by side at the airport’s central AeroShell Square for a group photo following a parade that led them to the gathering.

In another event, a memorial service took place before an Old Glory Honor flight from Oshkosh to Washington, D.C. Two daily Warbirds in Review shows further echoed the patriotic sentiment, as daily mock dogfights and bombing runs pierced the sky and shook Wittman’s hangars.

Vintage aircraft and classic warbirds enlivened the flight lines and campgrounds, while some of the military’s most advanced aircraft invaded AeroShell Square. A C-5 Galaxy and CV-22 Osprey lined up alongside a BAE Sea Harrier F/A2 that performed demonstrations of its STOL capabilities.

Air shows left little to be desired on the ground, other than the sheer gut and skill of the pilots performing up above. Biplanes climbed into hammerheads amongst diving parachutists. A jet sailplane swept along the sky and resembled a ribbon dancer with smoke tails.

Chuck Aaron’s Red Bull helicopter defied laws of physics with loops and backflips while, likewise, the AeroShell Team did the same in its fleet of T-6A Texans. On the other side of the field, the Goodyear Blimp droned across the eastern Wisconsin horizon. Musical performances capped several evenings, including concerts by Asleep at the Wheel, Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band and classic rockers Chicago.

The Partridge Family meets the Piper Aircraft Family 

Beyond the amazing events, camaraderie highlighted the week for many. A family reunion takes place among longtime attendees who reunite with smiles and back-pats, as those new to the festival establish friendships they will take into future shows.

For us at, we took delight in greeting the hundreds who visited our booth in Hangar D. More than 2,100 international visitors registered at the EAA tent. Trading jokes with Australians or communicating with Portuguese-speaking Brazilians with a mix of English and Spanish made the trip to Oshkosh as unique and enjoyable as a trip to anywhere else in the world. Except, there is no place that comes close to offering the heritage and spirit felt by fellow members of the aviation community. Thus, fortunately, there are only 51 weeks until next year’s installment.

The aerial acrobatics continued as we left Wittman Field, as a crop duster tended
to his soybean field.

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