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April 7 Event Honors Oshkosh Aviation Legend S. J. Wittman

Contact:  John Egan, Event Chairman
920-419-5631

On April 7 from 7:30 to 10:30 am Oshkosh’s local EAA Chapter 252 will host a pancake breakfast fly-in to commemorate legendary pilot and aircraft designer S.J. “Steve” Wittman’s 108th birthday.  This event is open to the public.

Held at the Wittman Regional Airport Terminal building on 20th Street, the event features a breakfast of sausage, eggs, beverages, and all you can eat pancakes.  Those attending can fly-in or drive-in.  The cost is $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children under the age of 10.  Pilots of homebuilt aircraft that are flown in will get free breakfast.

A real aviation pioneer, Sylvester Joseph Wittman (April 5, 1904 – April 27, 1995) received his pilot’s license in 1924 (signed by Orville Wright) and built his first aircraft later that same year. He was born in Byron, WI, and spent most of his youth in the Byron/Fond du Lac area.

Starting in 1925 he operated his own flying service.  He also became a demonstration and test pilot for the Pheasant Aircraft Company, which moved to Fond du Lac in 1930.  Wittman was active in air racing through most of his aviation career; from the Thompson Trophy Races of the 1930s to the Lowers, Baker, Falk races in the 1980s.  In January of 1932 Wittman won the Colonel Green Trophy in Florida while racing his own airplane design “Chief Oshkosh”.   Upon returning to Oshkosh, an estimated 600 people turned out to greet him on his return. Oshkosh Mayor T.G. Brown greeted Wittman proclaiming, “Your achievement has been a distinct honor, not only to yourself and your plane, but also for the city of Oshkosh. We want the fame of Oshkosh spread far and wide throughout the land, and I think you and your plane have done that remarkably well.”

Wittman spent the remainder of his life in Oshkosh, serving for many years as the operator and manager of Wittman Airport.  His racing aircraft are on display at the EAA Museum and the National Air & Space Museum.

As part of the celebration, area young people ages 8-17 will have the opportunity to receive a free airplane ride.  From 8:30 to 10:30 am Chapter 252 will host a Young Eagles Flight Rally.   Volunteer pilots will explain how their airplanes work, and how safety is their prime concern before every flight.

The rally is part of the EAA Young Eagles Program, which was created in 1992 to introduce young people to the adventure of aviation.  Since the program’s inception, Volunteer EAA pilots have provided airplane rides to more than 1.4 million young people in more than 90 countries.

Following the flight, each child will receive a certificate making them an official Young Eagle. Their name will then be entered into the “World’s Largest Logbook,” which is on permanent display at the EAA Air Adventure Museum in Oshkosh, WI.  The Logbook is also accessible on the web at www.youngeagles.org.

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