Wichita planemakers head to AirVenture

07/28/2013 7:42 AM

07/28/2013 7:43 AM

In what some call an annual aviation pilgrimage, Wichita aviation enthusiasts and businesses are heading to Oshkosh, Wis., for the 61st annual AirVenture Oshkosh convention and fly-in.

The event, sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, runs Monday through Aug. 4.

The air show is expected to attract more than 500,000 people and 10,000 to 12,000 airplanes of all kinds, turning Wittman Regional Airport into the world’s busiest for the week of the show.

Many of those planes were built in Wichita.

AirVenture’s roots were in home-built airplanes.

Now, “it’s graduated to all aviation all the time,” said Dave Franson, president of the Wichita Aero Club. “It brings together the U.S. aerospace community and it does it on the shores of a lake with mosquitoes and shorts and sunglasses and sunscreen.”

The show takes a town of fewer than 100,000 and turns it into a town of 650,000 of your closest friends in the industry, Franson said.

“It’s almost a perfect combination of where people come and can do business and come for that reason, but it’s informal,” Franson said. “It’s in a setting that’s easy to spend some time because you can camp under your wing or in your RV or whatever.”

A variety of Wichita companies will showcase their products and services there.

Cessna Aircraft is planning its largest exhibition yet at this year’s show with its piston line, the TTx, formerly the Corvalis, Skylane JT-A, which runs on jet fuel, and Grand Caravan EX turboprop.

Also on display will be a Cessna Skycatcher, Citation Mustang, Citation CJ4, a Turbo Stationair Amphibian, its mobile service unit and a Bell 407 Helicopter.

Cessna is hosting NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray at its booth on Monday, and he’ll be signing autographs. His No. 1 Cessna car also will be on display at the exhibit.

The restructured Beechcraft Corp. is bringing seven airplanes for display – its entire line of commercial aircraft.

It will have King Airs, a Baron G58 and Bonanza G36 along with its AT-6 light attack aircraft. It will be the first time the AT-6 will be on display at the show.

In a nod to its roots, the company also is bringing a 1943 Beechcraft Staggerwing.

“We’re expecting the aircraft at our exhibit to turn a few heads this week and to attract a diverse crowd with our mix of commercial planes and turboprops, the Oshkosh debut of our AT-6 light attack aircraft and a chance to see a 70-year-old Staggerwing,” Keith Nadolski, president of Beechcraft Americas, said in a statement.

Wichita’s competitors, Piper Aircraft, Embraer and Honda Aircraft, also will have planes on display.

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