Saturday, December 2, 2023

EAA Christmas in the Air 2023

Writing letters to Santa, cookies and milk, coloring, education, scavenger hunt, choirs, quartet, the big man himself Santa, and lighting of the Christmas tree. All of this took place this day at the EAA museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and free to the public!

I believe this "EAA Christmas in the Air" tradition started in 1984. Holiday festivities take place, which include Santa flying in on a helicopter. In addition of Santa greeting the children this day, EAA collected more than 1,000 pounds of food and 100 gifts for the Oshkosh-area families. All made possible by EAA staff and a whole bunch of volunteers that donate their time throughout the year.

My purpose of going this time was to see the museum again and take photographs of Santa. Especially of Santa coming in a helicopter. I was not permitted to photograph Santa landing, and the crowd of children to meet Santa was building up quickly. As a photographer you do not interfere with the public. If you are in a photographers pool you can fight for your ground. Not having a dedicated area for photographers I chose to stay back to let the children and their parents (and grandparents) see and participate. Though no photographs of Santa, it was a happy outing to the EAA museum.

Some information. I have been an EAA member since the early 70's, #84624. In 1953 when EAA first started, my dad who was there both Saturday and Sunday to sign up is #26. He would have had an earlier number except for the fact he did not have any money on him to pay the dues Saturday. So he flew home and came back on Sunday. My dad, being one of the pioneers for aluminum homebuilt aircraft back then, and supporter or EAA.

Here are some photographs of the museum for you to enjoy.

Hanging on the wall in the photograph above is the Thorp T-18. The plane originally came out in 1963. My dad's Mustang II came out in 1965. Along this time frame was the Dyke Delta JD-1 that came to the EAA Rockford Fly-in in 1963. The Breezy was introduced on 1965. The BD-1 in 1963, BD-2 (LOVE 1) in 1967, BD-4 1968, the BD-5 in 1970, the Sonerai in 1971. What is interesting is that all of these designers respected each other, and at least from my and my dad's point of view, supported the builders of those aircraft. It did not matter if you were building a Thorp T-18 or any other experimental aircraft, my dad was there to help you out when you needed it.

What I miss from the museum are planes that came out in the late 50's and through the 60's. I understand that the most popular plane of this time are what draws people to support aviation. However I do like the sanctity of a museum representing the past. The EAA would need a shot in the arm of money to expand the museum for all this. Would this be the time?

Back to the Thorp T-18. I saw an article once that made note that the T-18 was the first all metal homebuilt. I will have to make a correction to that statement. The T-18 was one of the early, but not the first. The Midget Mustang, designed by Dave Long in 1947, was an all metal aircraft. My dad and another gentlemen bought all the rights to the Midget Mustang in 1951. There had been many inquiries from other aviation enthusiasts wanting to build the Midget Mustang. So my dad began developing, standardizing materials, and creating drawings for the homebuilder (circa 1959). So, the Thorp T-18 was not the first. I cannot even say that the Midget Mustang was the first, however can say it came before the T-18.

One of my favorite items on an airplane is a wooden propeller!

The other item of an airplane I love to see are radial engines!

EAA Aviation Museum
3000 Poberezny Road
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 5492
P. 902-426-4418

For more history on the Midget Mustang and Mustang II click "here".

For information on how to build your own Midget Mustang and Mustang II click "here".


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