As AirVenture approaches it’s midpoint, images of last years ‘Sloshkosh’ began to replay in visitor’s memories. The rain moved in around dawn, continuing on and off during the day and bringing about 1 inch of precipitation to the airfield. There remains a chance of rain through Thursday night and grass parking areas are already being effected by the moisture, with AirVenture staff marking off portions no longer suitable for use. The latest update from EAA staff was that the grass roadways were the most effected by the rain. Thankfully, the area had a dry spell leading up to AirVenture, allowing the soil to soak up much of the rainfall.
In news from around AirVenture, following on the footsteps of Tom Poberezny’s retirement announcement yesterday, EAA’s President and CEO, Rod Hightower, announced an expansion plan for the EAA’s Young Eagles program. Beginning in 2012, the program will expand it’s reach to include adults and no longer be limited to just kids between the ages of 8 and 17. The adult program will be a spinoff of the Young Eagles. Specific details, and a name, have not yet been released, but it should be popular and possibly become a catalyst to re-ignite interest in general aviation.
Today was also Navy Day at AirVenture and the day started with a special honor flight presented by Southwest Airlines. Approximately 80 WWII Navy veterans boarded a Southwest Boeing 737 this morning and headed to Washington D.C. for tours of the memorials that honored their sacrifices during the war. The honor flight returned this evening to a enthusiastic welcome home celebration.
Throughout the day, in honor of the Centennial of Naval Aviation, multiple vintage and current Naval aircraft were on display as well as flying in the day’s airshows. Some of the event’s included the Salute to Naval Aviation at the Scotts Warbird Alley.
Also on display today was a collection of what some people consider is the future of powered aviation, electric airplanes. With the increased increase of electric automobiles and the continued advancement of electric propulsion systems, it’s common sense to begin seeing this technology work it’s way into aviation. With aviation fuels costing well in excess of $5.00 a search for alternative fuels in aviation is well underway. EAA had originally hoped to offer a $60,000 Electric Flight Prize; however, many of the aircraft did not complete the required 40 hours of flight time to be eligible. The prize has been delayed until AirVenture 2012.
The legendary Burt Rutan also presented his ‘hybrid’ airplane design, the BiPod. The BiPod is powered by hybrid power, both batteries and internal combustion engines as well as being hybrid by being able to be driven on roads as a car. Burt’s former company Scaled Composites owns the design and he is unsure if they will develop the design. When discussing his ‘retirement’ Burt stated, ‘I’ve done a new type on average one a year since 1973. Do you think I can stop that?’
Before the movie began for the end of the evening festivities, the Salute to Naval Aviation continued at the Theater in the Woods as renowned astronauts, Capt. Gene Cernan and Capt. Jim Lovell took the stage along with Adm. Gary Roughead, the current U.S. Chief of Naval Operations.
The night ended with a screening of ‘Clear and Present Danger’ at the Fly-In theater and was introduced by Harrison Ford, and was sponsored by Ford Motor Co.
With more rain in the forecast for tomorrow, the skies will need to be watched closely but hopefully, the 4th day will be as successful of a day as today and the prior two.