EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2024 is coming…

William Presler and the two-thirds scale P-38

The world’s greatest General Aviation event is less than two weeks away! EAA AirVenture is shaping up to be very special. Here are just some of the highlights that will be experienced by more than 500,000 people as they make the pilgrimage to Oshkosh, WI.

Two-thirds scale P-38

The late Jim O’Hara and his wife Mitzi began their incredible homebuilding odyssey to create a two-thirds scale P-38 Lightning in Texas in the mid-1990s. Having retired from a long tenure as Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Tulane University in New Orleans, he decided to learn to fly. Then, because he had loved the Lockheed P-38 Lightning when he was growing up, Jim decided he would build his own replica.

Jim chose two-thirds scale because that was the smallest the aircraft could be made – and still have a cockpit that his wife and he could fit in. 

After more than 20 years – and tens of thousands of hours of design and construction – the aircraft, powered by two 220hp Continental IO-360s, made its first flight in 2008, and would go on to fly about 120 hours. However, Jim and Mitzi were not people to seek publicity, and the aircraft, while well-known, was never seen outside of very local fly-ins.

When Jim died aged 94 in December 2022, he left the aircraft to his great nephew William Presler, from Lebanon, Tennessee. William, who runs Volar Avionics and Restorations, carefully returned the aircraft to airworthiness, after it had stood inactive for a number of years, including modernising the cockpit with a Garmin glass panel.

William is fulfilling an invite from the then EAA President, the late Tom Poberezny, made to Jim in 2009, to have the aircraft as a centrepiece on Boeing Plaza during AirVenture 2010. So, finally, Jim and Mitzi’s fabulous homebuilt creation will be displayed for all the world’s homebuilders to appreciate.

Burt Rutan at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2019.

Legendary designer, Burt Rutan, returns

Burt Rutan, whose innovative designs have captured the world of flight, ranging from homebuilt aircraft to space vehicles, will return to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2024 with appearances and forums coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his VariEze canard aircraft design.

“Burt is best known to the public for his historic designs of SpaceShipOne, Voyager, and GlobalFlyer, but for EAA members and aviation aficionados, his unique concepts began more than a half-century ago with fibreglass canard aircraft that revolutionised the amateur-built airplane community,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities. “Every time Burt joins us at Oshkosh, his presentations draw big audiences who are eager to hear his unique perspectives on flight.”

Two B-29s and a Lancaster to fly together

Boeing Plaza will be home for a collection of notable World War II-era aircraft, as AirVenture 2024 commemorates the Allies ‘turning the tide’ in 1944. Among the aircraft to take part in the commemoration include both airworthy Boeing B-29s, Doc and FIFI, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Avro Lancaster Mk. X bomber, a C-47, a C-53, two razorback P-47s, and a Hellcat.

The Lancaster is scheduled to join both B-29s in flying in formation as part of the night air show on July 24. The trio of aircraft flying together marks a rare occurrence in air show history, and creates one of those ‘Only at Oshkosh’ moments.

Canadian Airforce 100th anniversary

The Royal Canadian Air Force will play a prominent role in the displays during AirVenture as the event celebrates the RCAF’s 100th anniversary. The aircraft headlining the commemoration include the Snowbirds, the Avro Lancaster Mk.X., and the CF-18 Hornet demo.

Canadian teams will bookend the afternoon air shows on 26-28 July. The Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Demonstration Team, commonly referred to as the SkyHawks, are scheduled to open the shows during the national anthem. The team will be jumping from a DHC-6 Twin Otter. The Snowbirds will close the shows on all three days.

Swearingen SX300

Four homebuilt anniversaries to celebrate

Finally, four homebuilt aircraft anniversaries will be celebrated at this year’s show, including the RLU-1 Breezy, Zenith 600/601, Swearingen SX-300, and Kitfox.

RLU-1 Breezy: First flight in 1964. A completely open cockpit pusher aircraft. Designed and built by Charles Roloff, Robert Liposky, and Carl Unger. For decades at AirVenture, Carl Unger could be seen hopping rides in his Breezy wearing his trademark red vest. The prototype Breezy is on display in the EAA Aviation Museum.

Zenith 600/601: First flight in 1984. All metal two-seat aircraft designed by Chris Heintz.

Swearingen SX-300: First flight in 1984. Designed by Ed Swearingen, the two-seat, 300hp homebuilt remains one of the ultimate high-performance homebuilt aircraft to be offered as a kit.

Kitfox: First flight in 1984. Designed by Dan Denny, featuring a small side by side, two-seat, high-wing configuration. An enduring design, more than 4,500 kits have been delivered worldwide.



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