When I got back to camp last night I said to myself, this is it, no more for at least the next two or three years. This afternoon I made a promise to myself that I will be back next year. Why the change of mind? Simply because Thursday started off very well. We did our usual visit to the Seaplane Base and met up with Paul and Ann Seehafer who we had corresponded with in the weeks leading up to AirVenture.
A visit to the base is a must. The atmosphere is more relaxed than the hustle and bustle at Oshkosh and for us South Africans not familiar with amphibians, it opens up a whole new world. But the best was to come, Paul and Ann had organised us a flight in a de Havilland Beaver Floatplane and we were able to add another to our bucket list. It was also the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Seabee's that flew in from Oshkosh to land at the base.
The RC-3 Seabee was designed by Percival Hopkins "Spence" Spencer, an aviation pioneer who built his first hang glider in April 1911. At the time, he was 17 years old. In April 1943 Spencer designed a prototype amphibian and in December 1943 Republic purchased the rights and immediately began developing an all-metal version designated the Model RC-1 Thunderbolt Amphibian. On November 30, 1944 it made its first flight with Spencer at the controls. In 1944 Republic had received 1,972 civilian orders for the $3,500 airplane and on February 19, 1945 the Navy granted Republic Aviation the rights to use the name Seabee for the civilian version.
During today's airshow the Lancaster, Spitfire and Mosquito, the only flying example in the world, re-enacted the roles played during WWII. The Lancaster that belongs to the Canadian War Museum is one of only two flying whilst the Spitfire is a full scale plans built with Allison engine. Although not the real Mc Coy, it is correct in all respects except for its Allison engine. Seeing these Icons flying was reason enough to fly all the way to the USA.
Another British product although not of WWII vintage that took part in the “Warbirds in Review” section was the Seafury.
The main reason for changing my mind is because good folks at AirVenture always seem to pull something out of a hat and that they did again today with the arrival of three Marine Harriers. Juri and I were fortunately booked for a session in the ditches, a trench between the runway and taxi way, when their arrival were announced and being as close as 80 meters, seeing these amazing machines so close is absolutely priceless!
Inside the ditch
Add to that the usual and not so usual displays like the……..
Wright B Military Flyer
Ribbon cuts, not just one ribbon but three
Some breath-taking close formation flying
And some real crazy flying
Day four Oshkosh and it has not disappointed. Would we do it again? For sure!!!