Thursday, January 10, 2013

The day EAA put a warbirds owner in his place

Over on the EAA forums (which are good,by the way), the monthly "we want the EAA the way it used to be thread) had broken out again, as it usually does every month when Sport Aviation arrives in the mail and every single article doesn't appeal to some member.

But, hey, can we get a little love for EAA over here. And some for Jack Pelton, the interim president.

A warbird owner has been rebuffed by EAA in his attempt to have EAA pay him to bring his plane to Oshkosh, a perfectly abysmal precedent and the fastest possible way to ruin AirVenture.

has the whole story.
Pelton was commenting on a decision by Fighter Factory President Jerry Yagen to have his exceptionally rare Second World War demonstration aircraft steer clear of the big show this year. Yagen is now lining up dates for his recently completed Mosquito fighter bomber and a new-build version of an Me. 262 jet fighter but he says he won't bring them to Oshkosh unless EAA pays him to do so. Yagen told AVweb he believes other warbird owners feel the same as he does and some will also boycott the show. "Sorry to say that the days of bringing such expensive airplanes all across the countryside for free will most likely not happen again," Yagen said. He said he thinks there has already been a perceptible decrease in the number of warbirds at AirVenture and that it will escalate. He also said he doesn't think AirVenture should pay for all warbirds to attend but that there should be compensation for aircraft like the Mosquito and Me. 262 that will be major drawing cards to the event. Pelton said Yagen's request is not only financially impractical, it would require EAA staff to perform the impossible task of determining which aircraft warrant funding.

We'll get along just fine without you, sir.


  1. Hi Bob,

    I'm curious to know why you think paying warbird owners to bring their planes to Oshkosh is the fastest possible way to ruin AirVenture.

    This subject has interested me for a while now because I have also noticed over the years what Yagen says, that there has been a perceptible decrease in the number of warbirds at AirVenture. I’m talking about, and I think he’s talking about, the rare Warbirds; the WWII fighters and bombers especially. I’m glad there are lots of T-6s, Stearmans, T-34s, T-28s, Yak-52s, CJs, L-3/4/5s, etc. that fly in. For me, the T-34, T-28, and CJ mass formations are an integral part of the AirVenture experience. But they aren’t rare warbirds.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are WWII warbirds at Oshkosh. There are always a bunch of P-51 Mustangs, P-40s and B-25s, with the occasional TBM Avenger, F4F Wildcat, F8F Bearcat, P-38 Lightning, or F4U Corsair. The B-17 flies overhead. Last year they had a rare A-36 Invader, an SBD-Dauntless, and a P-40C Tomahawk. That was about it, and I think AirVenture would benefit from having more, and displaying them in flight.

    I’m not just a Warbird aficionado. I like all aspects of AirVenture. But I’ve gradually become disappointed with the Warbirds.
    The previous year I was so disappointed I posted a suggestion on the EAA forum – AirVenture feedback thread that the EAA should target specific Warbird owners and pay them to bring their airplanes to AirVenture and fly them. That year was the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Naval Aviation and they did not have an F6F Hellcat or PBY Catalina! If they didn’t exist, that would be one thing, but I know there are airworthy Hellcats and Catalinas around. Of the airplanes that were there, other than the P-51s, hardly any of them flew.

    We all know how incredibly expensive it is to fly a WWII warbird. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect the owners fly them all the way to Oshkosh at their own expense. Especially while EAA benefits financially from their attendance. But I want to see them fly. I want to see Jerry Yagen’s Me-262 and Mosquito fly. When they have the Naval Aviation day, I want to see a Wildcat, Hellcat, Bearcat, Corsair, Dauntless, Avenger, Helldiver and Catalina all fly - simultaneously! When they have the WWII European theater fighter theme, I want to see a P-40, P-47, P-51, P-38, Me-109, FW-190, Me-262, Spitfire, Hurricane and Mosquito fly – simultaneously. They should have a WWI fighter theme, and have multiple Fokker DR-I Triplanes and D-VIIs in the air with Camels, Spads and Neiuports.

    These great warbirds are out there. I’d like to see the EAA should make an exception in this case, target specific airplanes they want at AirVenture, and pay the owners to fly them in, and fly them during the airshow. I think the rare Warbirds would increase attendance and offset the expense of paying the owners.

  2. I always thought AirVenture was primarily about general aviation, not military aviation. Sure, these old crates are neat, but I think the rows and rows of RV's are just as neat, and most with even better stories! Not having these vintage machines around isn't going to ruin AirVenture. It's going to bring the focus back to where it ought to be: the everyday, average pilot and his plane.

  3. It'll ruin AirVenture because it immediately brings the debate about why aren't *I* being paid to bring *my* plane to Oshkosh.

    I get it; warbirds are cool. If you want to bring one, bring one. If you don't want to bring one, don't bring one. Nobody put a gun to anybody's head making them by an old warbird.

    Nobody at Oshkosh is better or more important than anyone else. Nobody.

  4. The airshow itself is arguably one of the biggest reasons that EAA is losing its direction. When member advocacy becomes secondary to putting on an annual airshow (and there are many that say this has already happened), an organization that has always prided itself on listening to and responding to member concerns has forgotten its very reason to exist.

    EAA now (well, until recently anyway) finds itself trying figure out which membership base to cater to: the builders and pilots that supported EAA from day one, or those that join simply to get a cheaper ticket to the airshow.

    And, yes, I think Sport Aviation is also trending in the wrong direction under Mac McClellen although there too I have sensed a realignment back to where it should (in my opinion) be focused. I don't anticipate any more articles about store-bought turbine-powered planes.