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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 2 July 28, 2008     

Persistence pays off for mass-arrival organizers
By Randy Dufault

An EAA volunteer guides a lengthy queue of Cessnas toward their collective tie-down area as they taxi into the North 40 following their annual mass arrival ahead of Monday’s opening of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Photo by Dave Higdon

Rod Swanson has been coming to EAA AirVenture for some time. He, like many others, makes the annual trip to establish and re-establish the friendships that are such a large part of this gathering.

But Swanson and his friends often arrived at different times. That simple reality made it a challenge finding space in the North 40 where everyone could park together. While parking together is not absolutely required, according to Swanson it is a simple thing that adds a lot to the Oshkosh experience.

"We started the process back in 2004. I was talking with my brother and a couple of friends and we wondered how we could do this," Swanson said. "We went to the EAA and asked how do the Bonanzas do this? [EAA] told us that they have a full program. They train all year. They do this; they do that, and we said, ‘Well shoot! We can do that.’"

Out of that discussion, Cessnas to Oshkosh (C2O) was born. Now in its third year, the C2O flight arrived precisely on schedule, at 2:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon.

Swanson has served as the flight’s Director of Training since the 2006 inaugural flight. Working with a group of dedicated volunteers, and with some help from the Bonanzas to Oshkosh organization, C2O developed the necessary training and operations plans. The plans were submitted to the EAA, were subsequently approved, and the required Letter of Authorization was issued.

This year’s flight consisted of 35 airplanes. Although 63 had registered for the trip, weather turned out to be a significant challenge. Hurricane Dolly was responsible for a number of airplanes canceling, as well as some poor weather in the upper Midwest a few days prior to the flight.

Formation training is required before a pilot can participate in C2O. Over the course of the year C2O offers a number of training clinics around the country, including a clinic the day before the flight at C2O’s pre-EAA AirVenture gathering place at Dodge County Airport in Juneau, Wisconsin. According to Swanson 60 percent of this year’s participants were new to the flight.

Craig Chipley led this year’s formation in his 1961 Cessna 172B. Chipley, who also handles some training and logistics duties for C2O, had the responsibility for getting the flight off on time, getting to its waypoints on time, communicating with controllers, and, of course, arriving at EAA AirVenture at the exact assigned time. Swanson brought up the rear in his 1968 Cessna 310 twin.

The breadth of the Cessna product line presents C2O with an interesting formation challenge. Unlike the mass arrivals like the Bonanzas and Mooneys that involve very similar types of airplanes, Cessna has manufactured piston airplanes that range from the two seat 150 and 152, all the way through to twins like the 310, with virtually everything in between. To account for the performance differences between models, airplanes are grouped with others of similar performance. Slower airplanes depart first with the next group waiting just the right amount of time before they depart. The amount of time between the groups is planned so they all will arrive at EAA AirVenture together.

Participation in this year’s flight is up from 2007. Swanson attributes the success to diligence, planning, and sheer effort. New this year was an extensive website, built and managed by Gil Velez, C2O webmaster. The site has a number of features for year-round communication, as well as details for the flight.

C2O partnered with the Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) for this year’s flight. John Frank, founder and executive director of the CPA, had an opportunity to address the pilots during their post flight debriefing. Frank acknowledged the partnership, but was quick to give all the credit for organizing the flight to C2O organizers. He encouraged the group to tell all their friends about how much fun they had this year and encourage any and all Cessna pilots to join in next year’s flight.

C20 will cap off their 2008 activities with a barbeque at their "Cessna Base Camp" in the North 40.

Plans are already underway for Cessna mass arrivals at EAA AirVenture in 2009 and 2010. The 2010 event will have a special significance, as it will mark the 50th anniversary of the Cessna 210. More information is available at the C2O website www.Cessnas2Oshkosh.com.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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