AirVenture Air Shows Rock

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We’re usually so busy covering AirVenture that we rarely have time to give the afternoon airshow more than a passing glance. But this year, I’ve spent a couple of hours shooting around show center and I have to admit, EAA has outdone itself with both the acts and the pace of the show.

When we talked to Jack Pelton last weekend, he said the show had been retooled to include more acts at a faster pace and he wasn’t kidding. Some of the acts are as short as five minutes and few are longer than 10. That makes for an unusually quick-moving show and judging by the people I talked to around show center on Wednesday, the audience likes it that way.

But what really kicks this year’s show over the top is the addition of live cockpit audio and footage displayed on two giant Jumbotron screens either side of show center. This is a first at AirVenture and I think it dramatically improves the quality of the airshow experience. Like a major sporting event—think NASCAR or the NFL—the Jumbotron footage is both live and directed, so there’s a mix of cockpit shots, external tracking camera views and even performers ingressing their aircraft before takeoff.

We’re seeing live shots from everything from skydivers to the major aerobatic acts, all transmitted via a real-time datalink. This technology really saved the Yves Rossy Jetman act. At 5000 feet, the guy is a speck and everyone in the crowd was looking in a different direction. But on the big screen, you could see his live feed and the tracking camera could always seem to find him.  Without it, I think that portion of the show would have been a snoozer.

We’ll be doing some reporting on the technology later in the week, but if you’re here at AirVenture, make a point to take in the airshow. If you plant yourself a couple of hundred feet from the screens toward the front of the flight line, you won’t be disappointed.

Join the conversation.  Read others' comments and add your own.

Comments (4)

Sounds cool!

When I started in electronics it took a significant array of glowing electron tubes just to get a voice from one point to another and television was still an exotic technology which a significant bloc of Americans had yet to experience. Today we watch Yves Fossy's viewpoint on the big screen as he soars through the sky, and enjoy a NASCAR race from dozens of viewpoints both in and outside the cars with replays of everything so we can experience every nuance of the action.

All this information-crunching technology we take for granted actually dwarfs the progress represented by the evolution of the Wright brothers' flimsy craft into today's globe-spanning jetliners. Coming soon are elaborate software creations that can stitch together clouds of pixels from multiple sources into infinitely customizable views of...who knows what. Maybe our grandkids will spend much of their time in Star Trek style holo-decks that are more real than reality itself.

OK, big deal. But regardless, it impresses ME.

Posted by: John Wilson | August 1, 2013 12:19 AM    Report this comment could set one of those Jumbotrons next to the windsock and get the local weather / ATIS info when on downwind; sort of a "visual Unicom" ha ha! Who needs glass when you have Jumbotron?

Posted by: A Richie | August 1, 2013 9:24 AM    Report this comment

Seems like a lot of good news coming out of Oshkosh this year. Now, I wish I'd gone.

Posted by: Stephen Phoenix | August 1, 2013 10:31 AM    Report this comment

I'll second Paul's comments about the Jetman act. I'm normally not interested in the air shows, but I found a shaded spot under an experimental to catch Yves's act. I suppose I had built up my anticipation more than he's engineered, but a Jetman act needs to be reminiscent of Disney's The Rocketeer for me. The Jumbotron's kept me from walking back to camp.

Posted by: Matt Recupito | August 1, 2013 4:17 PM    Report this comment

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