Story and photos by Scott Jankowski
AirVenture has always been known for assembling a fine collection of prop and jet warbirds, 2023 was no exception. Most of these warbirds can be found primarily up on the far North end of the grounds in an area affectionately know as “Warbird Alley.” You can also find several of these aircraft rotated in and out of Boeing Plaza at show center. Warbirds are also heavily featured in the afternoon airshows with different days centered around different types of aircraft. A total of 380 Warbirds were in attendance this year, which is a 3% increase from 2022.
Several different types of propeller powered Warbirds were in attendance and included several types of liaison, trainer, fighter, bomber, and transport aircraft. As usual this year brought different types of North American T-6’s which celebrated its 80th birthday this year, P-51 Mustangs, B-25 Mitchell’s, and Chance Voight/Goodyear F-4U Corsairs. Several very special Warbirds were in attendance and included N422NA, a 1948 vintage Lockheed VC-121A Constellation named “Bataan.” This Constellation with C/N 749-2605 was converted to a VC-121A and assumed the military serial number 48-0613 and would become the personal aircraft of General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War. After its service it would pass through several owners before current owner and operator Rod Lewis would acquire it in 2015. This Constellation is powered by four Wright R-3350-75 Duplex-Cyclone air cooled radial piston engines which gives the aircraft a top speed of 334 miles per hour. A total of 332 Constellations of all types were built when production ended in 1958. This beautiful aircraft was on display over the weekend after engine issues cut its AirVenture debut short.
Jet Warbirds, which are gaining more and more popularity alongside their prop driven counterparts, have become a vital part of AirVenture. Numerous Jet Warbirds participated in the daily airshows with the Thursday Airshow dedicated to jets. Numerous Aero Vodochody L-39’s, and Canadian License built CT-133’s were to be found alongside the Polaris Group’s collection of Aero Vodochody L-39’s, Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets, and of course the very popular Mikoyan MIG-29.
All the Warbirds seen on the ground and in the skies above Oshkosh are privately owned and operated. These owners’ pick up the tab for any flying done during the weeklong event. The cost of owning and operating these historic aircraft increases year by year, which makes it even more important to do what it takes to keep these historic aircraft flying for future generations to see. If you get the chance be sure to thank a Warbird Pilot/Owner for bringing their aircraft to not only AirVenture but any aviation event. Look for more AirVenture coverage to come. Until next time, “Blue Skies To All!”