EAA AirVenture night performances create aeronautic fireworks show

Oshkosh — Lit up like a blinking Christmas tree, spewing white smoke and shooting fireworks in several directions, Roger Buis was actually seated in the crummiest spot in the joint, so to speak.

Swooping and looping in the ink-black sky, Buis’ Schweizer 300C helicopter performed an aerial ballet that looked like someone writing his name with a sparkler. But Buis couldn’t see much of it. And he was sitting smack dab in the chopper’s cockpit.

“The pyro when it starts lighting up, you have to make sure it’s not in front of the pilot,” Buis said before performing Wednesday night in EAA AirVenture’s night airshow. “The pilot actually is in the worst seat in the house.”

Gene Soucy performs during the night airshow Wednesday at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture in Oshkosh. There will be a second night airshow on Saturday.

Though night airshows started about a decade ago, they’re still relatively rare. EAA AirVenture has offered a daily airshow for decades, but a night airshow was included only a few years ago, on Saturdays of the weeklong convention.

This year another night show was added at the request of AirVenture visitors who come early and leave by midweek.

“They’re still not real common; that’s what makes them such an attraction,” EAA AirVenture spokesman Dick Knapinski said. “It’s so different. People see the planes during a day show, but at night there’s a certain mystery. It adds a whole new dimension.”

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