The North American P-51 Mustang
Oshkosh 2005
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P-51 Mustang at Oshkosh 2005
Airventure 2005 Warbirds
story and photography by Curtis Fowles

EAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association hosts hundreds of experimental aircraft during the week of Airventure each summer. If you are not a huge fan of the little "bug smashers" or the garage built planes with engines the size of large chain saws, there is good news. The EAA has many divisions or "chapters" which include homebuilts, ultralights, sport planes, aerobatics, vintage aircraft and warbirds, 386 counted by the EAA. Now that's what I'm talking about, 386? Wow.

One of the many rewards for making the trek to Oshkosh is the Warbirds of America show. If you can only attend a day or two, make sure to check the schedule because the warbirds do not fly every day. Pull up a chair on the flight line, grab some good food and drink, then relax. If you're a photog like me, grab some food while walking as fast as you can to that perfect spot and try not to spill some of everything on that nice Nikon.

Airventure 2005 will be tough to beat with a record six airworthy Boeing B-17 Fortresses in attendance and a seventh with work in progress. Oh and a B-24, which did not fly when I was there and a few B-25s. The famous "Glacier Girl" P-38 dug out from under over 200 feet of ice and snow was at the show. Oh yeah, "Glacier Girl" is something to see up close, and yes it did take the cake and Grand Champion WWII Award. The Lockheed P-38 N17630 is owned by J. Roy Shoffner of Kentucky. Steve Hinton flew her in a Heritage Flight early in the week (missed that one too). I was there from Thursday to Sunday, but it did not fly then.

Warbirds of all types were on hand. A little down in numbers for some of them though. Great showing of P-51s and B-17s. The usual gaggle of T-6 and SNJ's along with some Nanchangs and Yaks. Seemed like the WWII US Navy was lacking a bit this year, but there was a wildcat or two, a corsair, avenger and Ray Diekman's F8F bearcat which won Judges' Choice: Fighter. I saw three different P-47s (two of them only one day), a spitfire, a couple of P-40s. The Fighter Factory's P-40 won a Preservation Award.

Jet warbirds are always fun to see. A pair of F-4 Phantoms were at the show with one of them in the Heritage Flight and the other at Aeroshell Circle for a close up look. Did you get a look at Wyatt Fuller's immaculate F-86 Sabre N86FS? That is one excellent F-86. Fuller won Reserve Grand Champion Post WWII. And the world's only airworthy FJ-4 Fury, N400FS, owned by Rich Sugden of Jackson Wyoming was in attendance and in the warbird show.