President Tom Poberezny said he was asked one question daily in the
months prior to the start of AirVenture Oshkosh 2008: Will anyone come
to the fly-in convention with high fuel prices and a struggling economy?
worried that attendance would be down, Poberezny told the members
gathered Saturday morning at Theater in the Woods for the association’s
annual meeting that attendance has been outstanding. Part of that is due
to the relationships between EAA members built over decades, he said.
"Oshkosh is truly aviation’s reunion."
result, AirVenture 2008 "far exceeded my expectations," he
later told AirVenture Today. "Over the years, there have
been signature events such as the Concorde, Salute to Apollo, but never
have we had a convention that has been deeper and broader in terms of
programs and activities. This year’s event, coupled with the fuel and
economic issues, validates the relationship between the EAA members and
Oshkosh, between the aviation community and Oshkosh, and between
government and Oshkosh.
members of EAA should be proud of the results, but more importantly, the
impact their event has on the entire aviation community."
said the number of homebuilts, warbirds and vintage planes were all up,
and the North 40 was full. More than 23,000 youth went through
KidVenture, learning about the excitement of flight through hands-on
activities, flight simulators, top-notch speakers and more.
The largest crowd ever
– estimated at 10,000 – came to Theater in the Woods on Wednesday to
see comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, courtesy of RotorWay
International. That same night, another 6,000 were at the Ford Fly-in
Theater to hear Harrison Ford introduce Indiana Jones and the Temple
enthusiasts from 75 countries, up 50 percent from 2007, came to Oshkosh,
to experience more than 1,200 activities. And nearly 800 exhibitors
showed off their latest products, while countless companies announced
new products that show Oshkosh is the home of innovation in aviation.
AirVenture is an affordable family attraction, Poberezny said.
"Twenty-four hours of activities for $23 a day is unparalleled
value," he said. But EAA is only able to keep that cost affordable
thanks to the 6,000 volunteers who help out on the grounds and the
partners who sponsor a variety of services and programs, he said.
Although the 2008 isn’t
over yet, planning has already begun on next year’s event. Several
themes will be present in 2009 including mission aviation and a Concorde
reunion. Plus Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites and Sir Richard Branson
and Will Whitehorn of Virgin Galactic said they would bring White Knight
Two, the newly introduced launch vehicle for SpaceShipTwo to next
year-round basis, Poberezny said their major focus will stay on
chapters, which he called "the lifeblood of EAA," as well as
proactive advocacy and outreach to get more people flying or involved in
"Oshkosh 365" will be a major initiative to involve people in
EAA through social networking, he said.