When Mother Nature cooperates, Wednesday is traditionally the day that those who arrived at EAA AirVenture last weekend leave town, and those who will go home this coming weekend arrive. That sort of happened today, but Mom’s rainy tantrum demanded some modifications (and patience).
The good news is that the clouds lifted enough for the air show to happen, and the best part of it was the second flight of the Martin Mars. As it did on its first flight during Monday’s show, it dropped about 7,500 gallons of Lake Winnebago on the grass next to Runway 18/36 on Wittman Regional Airport. Fortunately, the woman in front of me didn’t need her umbrella.
The photographer, who apparently thought it would be a good idea to try and capture an image from directly under the Mars’ flight path, on the other hand… Whoever was narrating the drop noticed the shooter and exploded in honest laughter. The camera that fed the flight line jumbotron and zoomed in on the photographer who was wading through knee-deep water.
Unfortunately, I was otherwise occupied for Wednesday’s drop, but instead of using a photographer as an aiming point, they set off some pyro for the Mars to extinguish.
Wednesday’s changing of the guard is a good time to see what’s new in the four main exhibit hangars. Nothing jumped out at me except the half dozen hawkers that wanted to clean my glasses with their magic juice that not only cleaned my lenses but protected them from finger smudges and fogging. Most of them were in Hangar D, which is next to the Fly Market, and it must be the portal to inside exhibit space for these vendors.
Aviation vendors in Hangar D were far and few between, and this seems be a sign that the aviation industry continues to shrink. And we’re getting older. Roughly half of Hangar D’s East wall was a carpeted rest area lined with comfy chairs and love seats, and most of them were occupied. It was another reminder of my mortality, so I went in search of the next generation of aviators.
As expected, I found them at the Drone Cage at the EAA Gateway Plaza. What I did not expect was that the Drone Center was half the size of last year’s facility. Not only was it larger last year, it was filled with vendors, on Wednesday a year ago, it was it was just a few fish shy of sardine occupancy. This year there was room to roam with distraction with little chance of bumping into someone.
Going out the back door of the Drone Center led me to the Innovation Center, where I saw the coolest thing ever – the Wyp (pronounced whip) Aviation Wingboard. Think wakeboard for an airplane. Yup, an airplane. Wyp Aviation’s website has some interesting videos of its aerodynamic tests. Not that I’d every want to give it a try, but the Wingboard is still the coolest thing I’ve seen so far this year, after the Martin Mars in action, that is. – Scott Spangler, Editor