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More than 50 Piper Comanches are expected to arrive en masse at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Piper's first all-metal aircraft. Zach Grant, who is coordinating the arrival, said 72 airplanes are signed up to participate. However, he anticipates the number of planes taking part in the mass arrival will be about 60 due to inevitable last-minute cancellations.

"The first models were actually built in 1957 as 1958 models, so this is our celebratory year," said Grant, North Central Tribe Chief for the International Comanche Society. "We want at least 50 airplanes for 50 years." The Comanche, produced through 1972, came in various versions, from 180 hp to 400 hp to turbocharged.

Last year, forty-two Comanches had signed up for the mass arrival, a type of "dress rehearsal" for this year's bigger event, but six canceled at the last minute because of weather or mechanical problems, he said.

Airplanes are coming from as far away as Europe, South America, and Alaska. In the contiguous 48 states, the most airplanes are coming from the farthest states - Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, and Texas, he said. In addition, pilots are coming from as far away as Africa and Australia.

The group is scheduled to arrive in Oshkosh at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, July 27, after staging Saturday in Watertown, Wisconsin.

Once at AirVenture, the Comanche convention headquarters will also be the main exhibit display area, and two technical presentations will be offered daily at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Topics to be covered include insurance, Comanche aircraft maintenance, performance modifications, aviation safety and more.

In addition, there will also be several social events after hours, including a corn roast, an off-site dinner at Green Lake and social hours in the camping area. The International Comanche Society and the Comanche Flyer Foundation are sponsoring all events.

Grant said they hope to make the mass arrival an annual event, but maybe not as large. "The Comanche is an airplane with a cult following," he said. "It is a historically significant airplane and one that is very viable in today's market. It's cost effective for the performance you get."

For more information, e-mail Grant at comancheosh@yahoo.com.

 

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