Each year in late July, 100-150 Beechcraft Bonanzas and Barons assemble and fly in the world’s largest formation of civilian aircraft, to the world’s greatest celebration of aviation – EAA AirVenture, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Bonanzas to Oshkosh began in 1990 when a few Bonanza pilots decided to camp together in Oshkosh. The only way to camp together is to arrive together. The Bonanzas to Oshkosh formation arrival was born. Nine aircraft participated the first year. They had a great time and word got out. In 1991, a Bonanza pilot came up with the moniker “Bonanzas to Oshkosh”, and its abbreviation, “B2OSH”, and the group grew quickly. They set the official NAA World Record for a formation of civilian aircraft in 1995, 132 Beechcraft Bonanzas and Barons. The official record of 132 still stands, despite B2OSH exceeding it more than once. In 2018, 150 aircraft flew in the formation, but sanction for a new World Record was not sought. Last year, 120 aircraft visited La Crosse.
Over the span of 30 years B2OSH expanded to include formation flying clinics in more than a dozen locations across the nation. Quality training leads to proficiency in the art of formation flying, and the regional events are added layers of the social fabric.
After 30 years, Bonanzas to Oshkosh found a new home in 2021 and now launches from La Crosse Regional Airport. B2OSH can’t happen without eager support. Colgan Air Services welcomed the Bonanza group with excellent facilities, well-trained staff, and, most importantly, open arms.
The most exciting moments for Bonanzas to Oshkosh actually happen on the ground. Every airplane lines up on the runway at the same time, 3-abreast, with 10 feet nose-to-tail separation. Bonanza Tail will call, “In!”, the control tower will clear the formation for takeoff, and the Colgan Air Ramp Boss will begin flagging off airplanes in waves of 3 every 15 seconds.
Taxi out will begin at 11:30 AM on Saturday, July 22. The lead element of 3 aircraft will begin their takeoff roll at 11:45 am. Anyone interested in viewing can park in the Cell Phone Parking Lot next to the La Crosse Regional Airport Terminal, or from any aerial view of the airport, and watch the world’s largest formation of civilian aircraft take off for Oshkosh. Public access is not available on site at the airport.