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Annual Bonanzas to Oshkosh takes off from La Crosse Airport

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW)- Bonanzas to Oshkosh took off from the La Crosse Airport, as they headed to the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.

According to the Bonanzas to Oshkosh flight lead Richard Schmidt, this marked the group's 31st annual trip. Each year, somewhere between 100-150 Beechcraft Bonanzas and Barons aircrafts fly in formation to the AirVenture.

Schmidt explained this is the only way the group can ensure they arrive together, so they can then camp with one another at the event grounds. He stated this was the main reason Bonanzas to Oshkosh first formed over 30 years ago.

"The first part of the group was just a handful, about 8 pilots that wanted to camp together at the camp grounds and the only way to camp together is arrive together," said Schmidt. "So, the event then became a formation flight so we could arrive all together at Oshkosh."

From there, Schmidt stated the group only continued to expand. By 2018, 150 aircraft flew in the formation to the Air-Venture.

After Bonanzas to Oshkosh was unable to make their annual trip last year during COVID-19, Schmidt was pleased with how many pilots joined the group this year, with just over 136 planes participating. According to Schmidt, all those wishing to join must first receive specific qualifications.

"You have to go to formation training classes with us, it's called a clinic, it's a weekend clinic where you go practice this to become qualified to do it," said Schmidt.

This was the first year Bonanzas to Oshkosh stopped in La Crosse, and Schmidt stated the group is very grateful to be here. After launching from the airport, the formation headed towards Wisconsin Dells and Fond du Lac, before reaching Oshkosh.

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Grace Gilles

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