AirVenture Oshkosh air show highlights the Airbus A380 flight test team

AirVenture Oshkosh air show highlights the Airbus A380 flight test team

The A380 wrapped up its AirVenture air show appearance with an aerial salute to the hundreds of thousands of attendees who provided an overwhelmingly enthusiastic welcome to Airbus’ 21st century jetliner during its visit to “the world’s greatest aviation celebration.”

29 July 2009 Feature story

In contrast to most other major air shows worldwide, the annual AirVenture Oshkosh is first and foremost a meeting of enthusiasts - from those who build their own aircraft in garages or basements to airplane owners, weekend pilots, professional aviators and aviation industry entrepreneurs.

AirVenture Oshkosh has been organized since 1953 by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and many of the hundreds of thousands of attendees at this week-long event arrive in their own aircraft or bring recreational vehicles, camping on-site at Oshkosh's Wittman Airport.

The A380's test pilots and flight engineers were warmly welcomed by AirVenture Oshkosh attendees after the A380's arrival yesterday, and they were in constant demand by those who wanted to learn more about the experience of flying Airbus' 21st century flagship jetliner.

Terry Lutz, an American who has been part of the A380 team during the past three years, was clearly in his element at Oshkosh. This former U.S. Air Force test pilot is an active member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, having completed his own RV-8 homebuilt airplane several years ago.

"It has been a great experience to work at Airbus in Toulouse, and I have learned an immeasurable amount of new and interesting things from my European colleagues, who all are extremely professional in everything they do," Lutz commented during a planeside briefing for show attendees.

Claude Lelaie, the Airbus French test pilot who was at the A380's controls for its maiden flight in 2005 and flew the aircraft into Oshkosh yesterday, also is no stranger to AirVenture. He first participated in this air show 28 years ago as part of an aerobatic display team flying the diminutive French-built Cri-Cri - a tiny airplane powered by two 11 horsepower engines.

"It's really a pleasure to be back at AirVenture, and to demonstrate this time how an aircraft as big as the A380 is very maneuverable and easy to handle with Airbus' fly-by-wire system," said Lelaie.

In a special salute to Lelaie and AirVenture, a Cri-Cri was brought to Oshkosh aboard the A380, and is being displayed next to the Airbus aircraft during the show.

In the photo above, Airbus test pilot Terry Lutz is shown in front of his homebuilt RV-8 aircraft, which is parked under the A380 at AirVenture Oshkosh.