volunteers keep their eyes on the skies as more than 100
Bonanzas arrive for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 in a repeat
of a mass migration started more than a decade ago. Photo by Dave
was about as official of an unofficial start to EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh 2008 as there could be. Bonanzas to Oshkosh (B2Osh), the
organization that started group formation flights to the fly-in now
mimicked by Mooneys, Cessnas, and Comanches, arrived at AirVenture
with 92 aircraft early Saturday afternoon. The parade of Bonanzas
taxiing to their tie-down spots in the North 40 is a perennial
indicator that the world’s largest aviation gathering is about to
year’s flight had an international flavor," B2Osh leader
Larry Gaines said, shortly after being welcomed to Oshkosh by EAA
President and AirVenture Chairman Tom Poberezny. "We have
Bonanza owners from Australia, South Africa, and Canada with
the left seat in Gaines’ 1958 J Model Bonanza was 19-year-old Max
Ringo. The recent high school graduate, who’s already earned his
commercial pilot certificate and multiengine rating, was making his
first arrival in Oshkosh aboard a general aviation aircraft.
couldn’t have been better," Ringo said after stepping out of
the plane. Like all B2Osh pilots, he underwent formation training in
preparation for the group flight. "It makes you a better
pilot," he said.
Bonanzas gather in Rockford, Illinois, the day before the flight,
where they have a hangar party and preflight briefing. This year’s
armada includes examples of almost all the 40 Bonanza models built,
from a 1947 Model 35 Bonanza, the first year of production, to a
2008 G36 Bonanza from the Hawker Beechcraft factory.
McEwen came in the Model 36 his mother, Pat McEwen, bought new in
1969 and flew in the Powder Puff Derby. It’s painted a distinctive
red, with a horizontal checkerboard strip circling the mid section
of the fuselage.
really nothing better than to come to Oshkosh with people passionate
about aviation and their airplanes," McEwen said.
McEwen learned to fly
in the aircraft at age 16, and since his mother passed away some
years ago, the airplane has continued to keep his bonds with her
a wife and kids, I’ve thought about getting a newer Bonanza, but
my mom won’t let me do it," McEwen, who now works for Hawker
Beechcraft, said. "She’s looking down saying, ‘That
airplane is good for you.’"
for the international visitors, John Chambers from Australia and Bob
Verwey from South Africa flew commercially to the United States,
then hitched rides with Jim Posner from Seattle and Stan Stewart
from Sacramento, California, respectively. Marc Charron and his son
Luc flew their 1968 Model 36 Bonanza from their home in Ontario.
been coming to the fly-in since the 1980s," said Marc, who
bought his Model 36 four years ago. "I figured this was a great
group to fly with."
Model 36 is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and manufacturer
Hawker Beechcraft, which has long supported the B2Osh crew,
presented the Charrons with a copy of the original invoice for the
aircraft, in honor of its having been made in the first year of the
minutes of parking, tents were being erected and participants were
gathering for their traditional arrival pizza party.
O’Halloran, a Bonanza owner from Cordell, Oklahoma, organizes the
welcoming fete. An enthusiastic participant in one of the online
Bonanza forums, O’Halloran began assessing other participants $5
for "stupidity" if they paid too much for a part or
confessed online to an operational lapse. Those funds pay for the
party every year.
F-16 pilot and retired Lt. Col. John "Weebs" Webener,
who’s in charge of the preflight briefing, was busy preparing
beverages in the chain saw motor-powered blender.
may have been the most problem-free flight from my
perspective," said Webener, who has a 1969 V35A Bonanza. And
how did he know it went so smoothly? "We had the least
communications in flight."
For anyone wishing to
see Bonanzas of almost every vintage and talk to owners about the
aircraft, the B2Osh group is camped on rows 528-533 in the North 40
aircraft camping area.