Airbus' A380 has become the star attraction at America's AirVenture air show this week, where the 21st century flagship jetliner is making an unprecedented appearance at what is called the "world's greatest aviation celebration."
Arriving at Wittman Regional Airport in the U.S. state of Wisconsin this afternoon, the A380 performed a flight demonstration that literally brought the event to a standstill as Airbus pilot Claude Lelaie put the aircraft through its paces. After landing, the A380 was parked at the heart of the show grounds - where Airbus is allowing the first-ever public self-guided tours aboard the aircraft.
AirVenture is truly a unique gathering. It attracts hundreds of thousands of pilots, airplane owners and amateur builders, as well as aviation enthusiasts of all ages - with many attendees flying to the week-long gathering in their own aircraft.
Organised since 1953 by the Experimental Aircraft Association, AirVenture brings together aircraft that range from ultra-lights to the most advanced research and development platforms flying today.
Tom Poberezny, who is the association's president and chairman of the AirVenture event, praised Airbus' decision to bring the A380 to Oshkosh, and said he hopes 15,000-18,000 show attendees will be able to tour it during three days of self-guided visits. "The Airbus team has been outstanding to work with in bringing the A380 to AirVenture - which has been our dream for the past three years," he added. "The coordination, cooperation and planning effort has provided the flawless execution for the A380's arrival today."
Appearing at AirVenture Oshkosh 2009 is one of two development A380s currently operated by Airbus, and it will provide the first opportunity for many visitors to see a flight test aircraft up close. "As this A380 does not have its airline seats, side panels or overhead bins, people will better understand how an airplane is built structurally, and how the air conditioning and other systems are installed in a transport-category airplane," explained Airbus test pilot Terry Lutz.