Air Force’s AETC To Be Featured at EAA AirVenture

Several popular homebuilt aircraft designs are marking anniversaries of their own at Oshkosh this year.

This year the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command (AETC) will be featured at EAA’s AirVenture. [Courtesy: USAF]

This year marks the 70th EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Air Force will be well represented as part of the celebration from July 24-30. 

The military has always been a part of Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) annual fly-in, and this year the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command (AETC) will be featured, with aircraft displays and aerial demonstrations along with diverse elements, such as critical care air transport with a C-17, military working dogs, and explosive ordnance disposal. The Air Force’s Band of the West will also perform during the week.

The AETC, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, was established and activated in January 1942, making it the oldest major command in the Air Force. 

“AETC is referred to as the First Command because nearly every airman starts at AETC, and we’re proud to be responsible for establishing the foundation for so many Air Force careers,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Brian Robinson, AETC commander. "Oshkosh is an excellent opportunity for us to showcase AETC’s members and how we recruit, train, and educate the airmen our nation needs.”

Rick Larsen, EAA's vice president of communities and member programs and coordinator of AirVenture features and attractions, added: “The Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command has a much wider reach than even most aviation enthusiasts would imagine, which makes AirVenture an outstanding location to highlight all of the command’s capabilities." The Air Force capabilities will be showcased in the air and during ground presentations throughout the week.

Homebuilt Aircraft

It is said the homebuilt aircraft movement began in hangars and basements as aviation enthusiasts sought to design, build, and later fly aircraft of their own making—in every sense of the word. These designs became known as "experimental" and "homebuilt aircraft," and they are at the very core of AirVenture and have been "since the first meeting in Milwaukee in 1953," according to Charlie Becker, EAA's homebuilt community manager. Becker notes that homebuilt aircraft continue to represent "a substantial percentage of the 10,000-plus aircraft that fly into AirVenture every year.”

As the EAA prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary, several popular designs are marking anniversaries of their own.

Midget Mustang 75th Anniversary

This single-seat, aerobatic sport airplane was designed by David Long, who was a chief engineer for Piper Aircraft. The low-wing airplane was originally designed to meet the post-World War II recreational flying market. Although it never went into mass production, the sleek design became a favorite in the homebuilt aircraft world. As noted on, there have been four Midget Mustang EAA grand champions at Oshkosh.

Wittman Tailwind 70th Anniversary

This two-place, high-wing monoplane was created by legendary aircraft designer and racer Steve Wittman, for whom Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) in Oshkosh is named. A 1965 version of the Wittman Tailwind is on display at the Sun 'n Fun Museum in Lakeland, Florida.

Thorp T-18 60th Anniversary

The Thorp T-18, an all-metal monoplane with a bubble canopy, was ostensibly designed by John Thorp to be an open-cockpit airplane. The Thorp T-18 is known for being the first homebuilt aircraft to successfully fly around the world.

Hiperbipe 50th Anniversary

The Hiperbipe is a two-pace, aerobatic cabin biplane with distinctive negative stagger and conventional landing gear. Originally produced in kit form by Sorrell Aviation of Tenino, Washington, the kit is now available from Thunderbird Aviation.

Sonex 25th Anniversary

The original Sonex is an all-metal kit design created by EAA Homebuilders Hall of Fame member John Monnett, an Okosh resident and founder of Sonex Aircraft, that is still on the field.

Van’s RV-10 20th Anniversary

This low-wing airplane designed by Dick VanGrunsven is part of the world’s most popular series of homebuilt aircraft. The RV-10 was the first four-place design from the Oregon-based manufacturer.

If you own one of these anniversary aircraft, you are encouraged to preregister so you can receive updates on special events, parking, and other activities connected to your airplane type.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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