35 RVs Celebrate 35 Years Of Vans' At Oshkosh

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Any pilot who has tried formation flying knows it is harder than it looks. And if flying close to two or three pals seems daunting, imagine flying in formation with 34 other airplanes. But a group of Van's RV pilots, determined to honor designer Richard VanGrunsven and Van's Aircraft on their 35th anniversary of being at Oshkosh, pulled it off with panache last week. After a couple of practice runs at a nearby airport, the 35-ship formation flew a mass arrival into Wittman Field on Sunday afternoon, the day before the show opened. On Tuesday and Wednesday, all 35 airplanes took off four at a time, then flew several maneuvers over the show. "This formation over OSH was the buzz along the flightline and particularly noteworthy as 35 pilots and planes remained mechanically sound and in precision tight formations five times over a five-day period," flight leader Stu McCurdy told AVweb. "It was a fitting acknowledgement of 35 years of Van's Aircraft producing quality homebuilt kits, with more than 5,000 now flying." During the airshow, the airplanes took off four at a time in fingertip formation, McCurdy said. "After takeoff, the No. 4s dropped into the slot for four-ship Diamond formations, and the four-ship Diamonds then formed two 16-ship Diamond of Diamonds formation with a three-ship tacked onto the second. The two formations then entered the airspace over Oshkosh with a criss-cross maneuver followed by a join-up into a Double Diamond shape. The 35-ship then transitioned in a Figure 8 pattern over OSH into an Arrow formation, then a Cluster formation, and then for the final pass they joined into a huge 35-ship Diamond formation. As far as we know, this is the largest close formation shape ever flown at AirVenture, or anywhere else."