This weekend marks Independence Day celebrations in the United States, and in three weeks EAA and hundreds of thousands of attendees will continue honoring those who have defended our nation's freedom throughout AirVenture 2011, July 25-31 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.
In celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation, AirVenture will host the largest collection of naval aircraft spanning all eras ever assembled in one location, plus many of the veterans who flew them, as part of its Tier 1 event status from the U.S. Navy for the year-long centennial festivities. Featured naval aircraft will be parked on ConocoPhillips Plaza as well as a special parking area dubbed "NAS Oshkosh" near Scotts Warbird Alley all week, in addition to hundreds of rare, legendary aircraft from all military branches.
Additionally, all veterans in attendance on Friday, July 29, are encouraged to participate in the "Parade of Veterans" starting at 2 p.m. from Scotts Warbird Alley. Award-winning actor and veterans advocate Gary Sinise, best known for his role as Vietnam veteran Lt. Dan Taylor in the classic film Forrest Gump and as star of the hit TV series CSI: New York, will greet veterans upon their arrival at ConocoPhillips Plaza, followed by a photo opportunity of the mass gathering.
All veterans and active military personnel who are not EAA members are eligible for a special daily AirVenture admission rate of $30 (nearly 25 percent off the regular daily price). This special discount is only available for tickets purchased in advance through the website. EAA-member military personnel will continue to receive the EAA-member rate, the lowest adult admission rate available to the event.
"As we celebrate America's independence this weekend, it is important to reflect on those who put their lives on the line for all of us," said Tom Poberezny, EAA and AirVenture chairman. "All week, attendees at AirVenture can celebrate 100 years of naval aviation and see more than 400 of these amazing warbirds up close and in action. You'll hear their stories and see their beloved aircraft come to life."
Other featured events and highlights during AirVenture that will honor veterans' service include:
- "Navy Day" on Wednesday, July 27, that features a special tribute to naval aircraft during the afternoon air show, plus themed programming throughout the day that includes an evening program at Theater in the Woods with renowned astronauts Capt. Gene Cernan and Capt. Jim Lovell recalling their experiences as U.S. Navy pilots
- An Old Glory Honor Flight departing AirVenture at 8 a.m. and returning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, carrying approximately 80 World War II Navy veterans on a Southwest Airlines 737 for a day-long tour of the memorials in Washington, D.C., that honor their service and sacrifices
- Expanded "Warbirds Spectacular" afternoon air shows on Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30
- Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band performing in concert, presented by EAA, the Warbirds of America, and Disabled American Veterans, at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 29, at Theater in the Woods
- Hundreds of historic and current military aircraft and personalities on ConocoPhillips Plaza and Scotts Warbird Alley, which hosts the popular twice-daily "Warbirds in Review" program
- Naval-themed World War II encampment, complete with re-enactors and a mock U.S. Navy base
- More than 100 specially designated forums and speakers throughout the week, including first-person accounts of wartime life
- Evening forums and movies at Theater in the Woods and Ford Fly-In Theater chronicling veterans' experiences