There’s only one reaction, really, to seeing the Airbus A380 double-decker airliner.
“Holy crap, that’s a big airplane.”
And it is an enormously big airplane. Look closely and you’ll see not one, but two rows of windows along the side of the aircraft. That’s because, like a classic English red bus, there’s an upper deck, and a lower deck. This airplane will carry you and somewhere around 700 of your closest friends. She’s sitting right now on the ramp at Oshkosh in something called “AeroShell Square”, and she literally dwarfs anything close, even Richard Branson’s very-cool-looking WhiteKnightTwo. The A380 may not look as cool, but what it lacks in panache it make up for in big.
But almost as impressive as it’s size is the way it kind of flowed through the air. The reaction among everyone I talked to about the airplane was the same. “It flew so slow.” Indeed, it seemed at times like it was an airship, making it’s stately way across the sky. How something that big can move so slowly through the air not 2000 feet off the ground was just amazing. She almost seemed to be lazy, making turns back and forth across the air show box before returning for a landing. Lazy, but graceful, as if to say “This is my day to show off, just a bit, before I become the long-haul workhorse of so many fleets.”
There are a lot of cool things, and people at this show. The innovations in airplanes and electronics are sometimes breathtaking, as are the price tags on the toys scattered across this midwestern airport. When you hear the terms “affordable” and “$15,000” mentioned in the same sentence, you wonder who it is who can afford to play in this league. And that’s not for an airplane, that’s for the glass panel avionics that are so popular. When you hear “affordable” and “$250,000”, you might be talking about an airplane. New, yes, and with all the bells and whistles.
But today, the star of the show was the A380. This is one of two test airplanes that are being evaluated before it goes into production. We’re supposed to be able to go inside over the next couple of days.
Sounds like fun, yes?