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Christmas Gift Guide

WhiteKnightTwo in flight

WhiteKnightTwo from below

World's Busiest Control Tower

Aircraft, aircraft everywhere

Aerial view

A380 cockpit

Small planes galore

Terrafugia

Samson Switchblade

Switchblade, wings out

Switchblade wings closed

Erickson S-64F Aircrane

Elvis the firefighter

C-130 in flight

NASA pavilion

Returning to the moon

F-16 and Lancaster bomber

Warbirds

For a week or so every summer, Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisc., becomes the destination for aircraft enthusiasts. That's because it's the venue for the annual convention of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The group's name notwithstanding, the EAA AirVenture show is as much about aviation heritage as it is about cutting-edge machines. This year's event began Monday, and it runs through the weekend.

The odd-looking bird seen here is the Virgin Mothership Eve, the aircraft that will carry Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket aloft for a midair launch of tourists into orbit. Also known as the WhiteKnightTwo, "Eve" has a wingspan of 140 feet. The SpaceShipTwo will be mounted between the twin fuselages.

Caption by / Photo by Shu-Ling Zhou/Oshkosh Northwestern/PSG
Powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines and made almost entirely of carbon composites, Eve has a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet. Virgin Galactic says the aircraft could launch four spacecraft every day. The company unveiled Eve one year ago this week.
Caption by / Photo by EAA
Eve flies by the Wittman airport control tower. The EAA says that the Oshkosh show is hosting more than 10,000 aircraft, along with more than a half-million visitors. For a look at life in the tower during the EAA event, see Wired.com's account, "Inside the World's Busiest Air Traffic Control Tower."
Caption by / Photo by EAA
Aircraft, aircraft everywhere, as far as the eye can see at Wittman airport.
Caption by / Photo by EAA
This view from above shows some of the larger aircraft at the EAA show, including the Airbus A380 jumbo jet, Virgin's Eve, a U.S. Air Force C-130 (center), and an orange Erickson air-crane helicopter (behind the C-130).
Caption by / Photo by EAA
In the foreground: the cockpit of the Airbus A380. Through the cockpit windows: the Oshkosh crowd.
Caption by / Photo by EAA
Where the A380 can carry more than 500 passengers, lots of the aircraft at Oshkosh this week are more of the one- to two-person variety.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/Kathy Barnstorff
The Terrafugia Transition falls squarely into the experimental category. While the folks at Terrafugia, including CEO Carl Dietrich (in cockpit), refer to the Transition as a "roadable aircraft," the catchier description would be flying car. The Transition made its maiden flight in March in proof-of-concept form; the first delivery to a customer is expected in 2011.
Caption by / Photo by Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT
Samson Motorworks is at this week's EAA show to drum up interest in its Switchblade, a three-wheeled "flying motorcycle," seen here in a tabletop model and a larger cutaway construction.
Caption by / Photo by Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT
According to the preliminary specifications from Samson, the Switchblade will be about 15 feet long and 5 feet wide and tall. The roughly 1,400-pound vehicle will go 90 mph on the ground (at 60 miles per gallon) and 134 mph in the air (22 mpg), on regular unleaded, the company says.
Caption by / Photo by Samson Motorworks
For travel on the ground, the vehicle's main wings will fold forward under the fuselage, switchblade-style, and will be "protected from road grunge and rock dings by a clamshell case and a structural keel that takes impacts," Samson says. The Switchblade is designed to seat two people side by side and also to offer "room for golf clubs."
Caption by / Photo by Samson Motorworks
The Erickson S-64F Air-Crane heli-tanker isn't nearly as sleek as the Switchblade or as oddly elegant as Virgin's Eve, but it's a design that's been flying for years. And with a nickname like Elvis, it's always up for an airshow performance...
Caption by / Photo by EAA
Here, Elvis the heavy-duty, twin-engine heli-tanker shows off its firefighting skills for the Oshkosh crowd.
Caption by / Photo by EAA
Not to be outdone, a C-130 from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command unleashes about 3,000 gallons of water.
Caption by / Photo by U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Jeff Schoen
The entry to NASA's pavilion at the EAA AirVenture show features inflatable mockups of the space agency's Orion crew capsule (left) and lunar habitat concept.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/Kathy Barnstorff
Earlier this month, NASA marked the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing. The space agency is still on a barnstorming tour to celebrate the lunar-focused Apollo mission--and to tout its efforts to get back to the moon, and beyond.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/Kathy Barnstorff
The old and the new: A World War II-era Canadian Lancaster bomber looms over a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/Kathy Barnstorff
A sextet of World War II-era "warbirds" flies in formation above the Oshkosh airport.
Caption by / Photo by Shu-Ling Zhou/Oshkosh Northwestern/PSG
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