“Is this heaven?”
“No… It’s Oshkosh.”
That nod to the 1989 film Field of Dreams was uttered more than once at this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. For good reason, too. Oshkosh is considered by many to be grassroots aviation at its finest. F-16s, Piper Cubs, and 747s all occupy the same airspace over eastern Wisconsin, with the world’s busiest air traffic control tower (for the week) orchestrating every landing. It’s what draws the same people back to the show for decades.
After 2020’s show was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, aviation enthusiasts returned to Oshkosh more eager than ever. The result was the biggest show in EAA AirVenture Oshkosh history. EAA says that more than 7,900 aircraft were parked the evening before the show opened, compared to 5,000 in 2019. More than 600,000 people attended the week-long show.
Amidst it all, GE Aviation set up shop just steps away from the rotating cast of aircraft at Boeing Square to tout groundbreaking business and general aviation technologies and celebrate the GE-powered aircraft arriving at the show.
An Industry Catalyst
GE’s Catalyst engine is the first clean-sheet engine in more than 50 years for the turboprop segment. It heralds a new era of advancement, enabling superior efficiency and reliability, best-in-class performance and a dramatically simpler ownership experience.
“We feel good about this engine. It’s really setting the foundation for us in the future… I think we’re bringing the right technology [to the marketplace] at the right time,” Paul Corkery, GE Aviation’s General Manager for Turboprop Engines, told Flying Magazine.
A full size Catalyst mock-up was the starring attraction of GE Aviation’s AirVenture Oshkosh exhibit. Meanwhile in Berlin, a Catalyst engine ran through testing aboard its Beechcraft King Air 350 Flying Test Bed, building up toward first flight.
The Catalyst’s first customer is the Beechcraft Denali. Tuesday of the show, GE Aviation and Beechcraft celebrated Denali Day by offering a behind-the-scenes look at the Denali.
The of the most important and pilot-friendly innovations the Catalyst enables is a single-lever power control, which reduces pilot workload while providing greater levels of control and responsiveness. Catalyst’s Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) is the brains behind this operation, automatically optimizes fuel flow, prop pitch and speed, bleed valves, and variable stators for maximum efficiency in all conditions.
GE and CFM* engines powered an assortment of unique aircraft into Oshkosh. Among them, Orbis’ Flying Eye Hospital, powered by GE’s CF6 engine; a CFM56-powered DC-8, operated by Samaritan’s Purse; and UPS Airlines’ brand-new 747-8F, powered by four GEnx engines.
It’s a rare opportunity for civilians to see operational U.S. military aircraft up close. At Oshkosh, however, it’s an integral part of the week’s festivities. From privately-owned World War II fighters and bombers, all the way through modern-day military aircraft, enthusiasts were in for a treat.
F110-powered F-16 Fighting Falcons roared through the skies with the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 Viper Demonstration Team. T700-powered Black Hawk and Apache helicopters hovered around the show’s grounds. Later in the week, F414-powered F/A-18s made an appearance, along with TF34-powered A-10 Warthogs.
*CFM International is a 50-50 joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.