Anniversaries Abound at 2016’s EAA AirVenture



The yearly EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh recognized a number of aircraft models and organizations for their milestones of longevity, during the 2016 show, like the Mustang II, a variant of the Midget Mustang, which turned 50 this year. Altogether, there were at least nine anniversary celebrations, and I found several other aircraft types and an organization that were not officially recognized too, but worth noting here. Here’s a quick rundown of some historic anniversaries in aviation’s history, and what was present to mark these milestones at the 2016 EAA AirVenture.

Boeing’s 100 years of aircraft manufacturing. On July 15, 1916, William Boeing incorporated the business which would become today’s Boeing…a giant in commercial and defense aviation. Throughout the week-long EAA AirVenture, different aircraft – including both original Boeing models and those of legacy companies such as McDonnell Douglas and North American, were displayed on the ground and in the air. A new B-737-900ER, operated by Alaska Airlines and wearing a special commemorative Boeing color scheme, was a highlight. Early in the week, a legacy McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle and a pair of QF-4E Phantoms were highlighted.

The U.S. is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Coast Guard aviation, and a diverse group of current aircraft, many in commemorative colors, were joined by a Grumman HU-16 Albatross, painted for the occasion.

The Spartan 7W Executive turns 80 years old. The big, all-metal transport first flew on March 8, 1936. Up to seven of these cabin class singles graced the AirVenture grounds at any one time during the week.

The Interstate Cadet received its type certificate on February 21, 1941, 75 years ago. Although not a big seller, it proved to be a solid performer and many are still in use today. Kent Pietsch performed his three distinctly different acts during the afternoon air shows, in his Jelly Belly-sponsored Cadet. Others were parked as antiques or warbirds.

75 years ago, the massive Louisiana Army Maneuvers of 1941 initiated the use of liaison aircraft, nicknamed “Grasshoppers”, for liaison and spotting duties. Their utility spawned manufacturing orders for aircraft just before the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War II. Initial types included Stinson L-1 and L-5 types, Taylorcraft L-2s, Aeronca L-3s, and Piper L-4s.

DeHavilland Canada’s DHC-1 Chipmunk turns 70 years old. The single engine trainer, originally for military use just after the Second World War, has found a niche in the civilian market, and several airframes, modified for aerobatics, were on hand in Oshkosh.

The North American Navion turned 70 years old this year, after its first flight during the month of February, 1946. Later, the design would be sold to Ryan, and a twin engine version of the higher-end single would be built too.


The Cessna 120/140 earned its type certificate in February, 1946, 70 years ago. Basically the same airframe, the 120 was a plain version, while the 140 and 140A were supplied with more state-of-the-art equipment, such as flaps. The Cessna 170 is a four-place design based on the 120/140.


The Globe Swift was certified by the FAA some 70 years ago, on May 7, 1946. Along with the Navion and Cessna 120/140, these aircraft opened the general aviation market to the masses, after World War II ended.


Although not part of the official festivities, the Boeing KC-135 first flew on August 31, 1956, some 60 years ago. One KC-135R operated by the Wisconsin Air National Guard, performed a series of low passes on the Thursday of AirVenture.


Another anniversary worth noting, but not highlighted, was the Civil Air Patrol’s 75th anniversary this year. One week before the U.S. entered World War II after the Pearl Harbor attack, the CAP was authorized by the president. The CAP has been a highly visible partner during AirVentures over the years, assisting with aircraft marshalling and even searching for on-field activated ELTs.


Still another unofficial EAA AirVenture anniversary was the 75th anniversary of Grumman’s TBF/TBM Avenger, which made its first flight on August 7, 1941. It is worth noting that at least two Avengers were in the Warbird area early in the week.

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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