MRO Memo: Milestones at EAA AirVenture 2021

Credit: Sammy Al-Marhoon/Lindsay Bjerregaard

The Experimental Aircraft Association held its 68th EAA AirVenture show this week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the show was bigger than ever, with nearly 8,000 aircraft flying in. You can see some of the highlights in this photo gallery.

Although the show’s focus tends to be on airframes and pilots, you can find some interesting MRO related stories if you look closely. On the show grounds this week I had the chance to tour the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital with Orbis International’s director of aircraft operations and maintenance, Bruce Johnson, and learn how the unique MD-10 aircraft is maintained. I also got to explore the “mobile maintenance” office the aircraft has in its cargo compartment with Valerie Suberg, the company’s senior manager of aircraft maintenance who always travels with the aircraft when it visits countries around the world to deliver sight-saving eye surgeries and training. You can read more about the unique maintenance considerations for the aircraft here and take a virtual tour inside the aircraft by watching this video.

In addition to commercial aircraft, the show also features business jets, military fighter jets and transports, and a variety of experimental aircraft such as electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicles and ultralights. When it comes to eVTOLs, this year’s show actually saw a milestone: Volocopter performed the first public crewed test flight of a full eVTOL air taxi in the U.S. for spectators on the show grounds, and afterward I had the chance to learn more about the company’s VoloCity eVTOL with CEO Florian Reuter. While I’ve seen display models of eVTOLs before at EAA AirVenture and CES, this was the first time I’ve ever seen one fly in person.

That wasn’t the only personal milestone I got to experience at this year’s show. I also had the opportunity to ride with Harvey “Boss” Meek on an aerobatic flight with the Phillips 66 Aerostars. During the flight the team performed loops, rolls and various formation flying maneuvers in three Extra 300L aircraft. Meek says the team (which also features pilots Paul “Rocket” Hornick and Gerry “Fossil” Molidor”) actually performs much of the maintenance work themselves to keep the aircraft flight ready, including handling oil changes every 25 hours. Watch the video below to see footage from my very first aerobatic flight.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.