Dazzling Air Show and Concert Not Thwarted by Rain

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh opened its gates to a large and enthusiastic crowd that enjoyed the site upgrades and new amenities.

The week's showcase activities began with Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo Virgin Mothership (VMS) Eve completing a flight demonstration and arriving at the mouth of AirVenture's static-display ramp, giving the crowd on hand an up-close look at the world's first space-tourism launch vehicle. Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Galactic, welcomed the space vehicle's flight crew, along with visionary aircraft engineer Burt Rutan of Virgin Galactic's partner organization, Scaled Composites. Sir Richard Branson will board VMS Eve for his inaugural flight on Tuesday (tomorrow), as part of the AirVenture air show beginning at 2:15 p.m.

The first air show of the 57th convention was slightly cut short due to inclement weather, but not before a thunderous show by an F-16 and a partial Warbirds demonstration. Also undeterred by the looming rain were several notable aircraft arrivals, including a Lancaster Bomber, Westland Lysander, and an F-18 USMC. Before the sky did its own dumping of moisture, two aircraft -- the Erickson "Elvis" Air Crane and a C-130 Firebomber -- performed impressive water drops along the flight line.

In other arrival news, Airbus' flight-test version of its enormous A380, the world's largest airliner, successfully landed at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee this afternoon where it will sit before its departure for Oshkosh tomorrow.

Back in Oshkosh, the opening-day concert featuring the Doobie Brothers, courtesy of Ford Motor Company, rocked AeroShell Square this evening after a short rain delay. The Grammy Award winning group, with hit songs like "Long Train Runnin'," "Black Water," and "Takin' It to the Streets," has numerous gold, diamond, platinum, and multiplatinum albums since the 1970s.

Today's dramatic, but somewhat shortened, air show intensifies anticipation for tomorrow's showcase flights and air show. The world's largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380, will arrive in Oshkosh and perform a flight demonstration.

And Virgin Galactic's mothership will return to the air -- this time with Sir Richard Branson, who has never previously flown in a Virgin Galactic aerospace vehicle, included on the flight as a crewmember engineer. With Branson aboard, VMS Eve will give a flight demonstration for all to witness its sleek, innovative design.

Tomorrow's air show will also spotlight performances by the Liberty Parachute Team, Chuck Aaron, AeroShell Team T-6s, Kyle Franklin, EAA Warbirds, and more.

EAA AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH 2009 on July 27-August 2 is "The Word's Greatest Aviation Celebration" and EAA's yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket purchase, is available through the World Wide Web at www.airventure.org. EAA members receive the lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit www.eaa.org.