Friday, July 22, 2011



    But for one week each summer,  aviation enthusiasts totaling more than 500,000 from more than 60 countries attend EAA AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where they rekindle friendships and celebrate the past, present and future in the world of flight.
    "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration" has it all when it comes to aircraft. Warbirds. Vintage. Homebuilts. Ultralights. Some you would normally find in a hangar at your local airport, others so unique they are the only one of its kind.

You name it, there's likely an example of it at Oshkosh.

   For many, arriving at Oshkosh is a rite of passage that can only be satisfied by being one of the more than 10,000 aircraft flying in, landing at what becomes the busiest airport in the world.

   Whether you're an aviation enthusiast or an aviation novice, AirVenture has something for you. No matter what your age, you'll be entertained, informed, and thrilled by the countless activities available that reflect the spirit of aviation all around.
   Daily air shows. Aerobatics and pyrotechnics. Opening Day concert. Fly-In Theater. Forums, workshops, and demonstrations. KidVenture. Theater in the Woods. All of this, plus much, much more is included with your daily admission.
   Add in the crowd-thrilling, show-stopping Night Air Show on Saturday night, and you have affordable fun for the entire family every day from sun up to well past sun down.
   There is uniqueness to each AirVenture that keeps lifelong attendees coming back for more. You need to experience it to understand.

A Brief History of Airventure Oshkosh

The Experimental Aircraft Association's Fly-In Convention, now known as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, has been in existence nearly as long as the association itself. The first gathering was in September 1953 as a small part of the Milwaukee (Wis.) Air Pageant. That original EAA fly-in at Wright-Curtiss (now Timmerman) Field was attended by a handful of airplanes, mostly homebuilt and modified aircraft. Fewer than 150 people registered as visitors. The larger Milwaukee Air Pageant has faded away but the EAA gathering has become the world's premier aviation event.
   EAA's fly-in grew quickly in its first few years and by the late 1950s it had outgrown the area of the Milwaukee airport it was allowed to use. In 1959, the event moved to Rockford (Ill.) Municipal Airport, where it would stay for the next decade. The "Rockford Years" were where the EAA Fly-In Convention established both its prominence as a homebuilders' event and its friendly feeling that is retained to this day. During these years, such diverse aviation interests as Warbirds, antiques and aerobatic performers became part of the EAA event.

   By 1969, it was apparent that the EAA Fly-In Convention had simply become too large for the Rockford facility. EAA had grown from a home basement operation to an office and museum in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin. The annual convention mirrored that growth, attracting hundreds of showplanes and tens of thousands of visitors.
    Sites were studied for a new home. Aviation legend Steve Wittman, who had been an EAA member since the association's founding in 1953, suggested the airport in Oshkosh, Wis. There was acreage surrounding the airport to handle the annual influx of airplanes, vehicles and tents. There were two lengthy runways (east/west and north/south) which did not cross, allowing greater traffic movement. Oshkosh city officials eagerly sought the event and enjoy the economic boost it provided. In late 1969, the EAA board approved the move to Oshkosh.

   There was only one problem - no Convention site or infrastructure existed in Oshkosh. EAA's volunteer network was up to the task, however. Within six months, EAA members had created a home for the fly-in. That volunteer spirit continues today, as more than 4,000 people donate their time and talents to help prepare and coordinate the Convention's grounds and activities.
   Through the 1970s and '80s, the Convention exploded into national prominence. Attendance jumped into six figures each year and the event became one of sport aviation's top gatherings.
   EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (as of 1998, the new name for the Fly-In Convention) now serves as one of the world's premier aviation events, attracting top government officials, corporate leaders and hundreds of thousands of aviation enthusiasts. It spans the entire spectrum of aviation and attracts 10,000 airplanes each year. The more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts who attend the event annually supply the local and state economies with more than a $110-million boost during the week-long event.

   After EAA AirVenture 2008, the largest site improvement upgrade in the event's history began. The project, which will be completed in phases over a 10-year period, includes many visitor enhancements, exhibitor-area expansion and more to retain the fly-in's world-class status.
    Today, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is an international gathering place for aviation enthusiasts. An AirVenture participant can study the latest aircraft and innovations; discover new ideas and techniques from the nearly 1,000 forums and workshops; see aviation's top personalities; or just talk airplanes with people from around the world. EAA AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH has become important and influential but retains its friendly and personal feel - part of the reason the world comes to Oshkosh every year.

A first-time visitors guide to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

   There's really no place in the world like the EAA's annual convention – EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. With so much to see and do, AirVenture can be a little overwhelming, especially if you're not already an EAA member or you're not traveling with friends who know the ropes.

A couple of quick tips to start you off:

  • Get a free map of the grounds when you arrive: Even if you’ve been here before, the new site improvements implemented in recent years bring a new look to one of the world’s great aviation events. You don’t want to waste a minute while you’re here.
  • Take advantage of trams for convenience and give your feet a needed rest. There’s a lot to see and do at AirVenture, and the trams will help you get the most out of your day.

  • Please don't touch aircraft without permission. Many who bring their aircraft to AirVenture put in long, painstaking hours into building, restoring, and/or maintaining their dream. Please be respectful of their work and dedication.
  • Follow the "Oshkosh Rules": EAA AirVenture is regarded as one of the cleanest major events anywhere in the world, because people follow some basic rules. Make sure all trash goes in the trash or recycling containers, and if you see trash on the ground, please pick it up and throw it away.

ConocoPhillips Plaza: This is AirVenture's marquee display area that is home to many of the featured attractions, ranging from historic warbirds to the latest innovations in flight. Aircraft rotate in and out throughout the week, so be sure to check back to see what's showcased each day.

Flight Line: Inspect firsthand the craftsmanship and design advancements that come from the hands and minds of EAA members. As you walk along the flight line, you'll see many of the newsmakers and personalities who make the world of aviation so exciting.

Scotts Warbirds Alley: See historic World War II-, Korea-, and Vietnam-era military aircraft painstakingly restored to flying condition at one of AirVenture's most popular attractions. The twice-daily "Warbirds in Review" sessions feature informal presentations on a military aircraft by the pilots who flew them and the restorers who care for them.

Homebuilts: Homebuilt aircraft has existed as long as powered flight. Homebuilders use their own abilities and craftsmanship to construct a safe and efficient flying machine, much like the Wright Brothers did over a century ago. Walk among the thousands of homebuilt aircraft flown to Oshkosh. Watch for daily "Homebuilts in Review" presentations.

Vintage Area: Take a trip way back in time to the early years of aviation. From monoplanes to biplanes to triplanes to metalplanes, an assortment of authentic and replica aircraft will bring you back to aviation's roots. Daily "Vintage in Review" programs at delve into these classics even further.

Seaplane Base: Nestled deep in the trees in a picturesque cove along the Lake Winnebago shore is a place where all visitors should try to visit. Seaplane base pace offers a respite from AirVenture's hustle and bustle. People often just sit on the shore and watch the planes come and go. Buses make regular runs between the AirVenture grounds and the Seaplane Base, departing from the Bus Park Tower.

Getting Out of the Sun or Rain?

   EAA Welcome Center: Located on Celebration Way at the edge of ConocoPhillips Plaza, the EAA Welcome Center is stocked with EAA and AirVenture information, member services and an Internet café. Plus, each day features a variety of speakers and presentations.

   AirVenture Museum: Free with your AirVenture admission, museum attractions include an impressive collection of more than 200 historic airplanes, six movie theaters, art and photo galleries, flight simulators, and two "hands-on" interactive galleries for kids of all ages. Additionally, a multitude of special activities take place in the museum throughout the week, including the popular "Speaker Showcase."

KidVenture: Located at Pioneer Airport near the AirVenture Museum, KidVenture features hands-on, educational, and fun aviation-based demonstrations and presentations. Kids get to build their own gliders and rockets, fly simulators, see aviation legends tell their stories, and so much more.

EAA Wearhouse: AirVenture apparel, model airplanes, DVDs and books galore are only a sample of what can be found at the official AirVenture store. Plus, meet authors and get autographed copies of their aviation works at Authors Corner.

Forums: During the week more than 500 forums are conducted by aviation leaders and NASA researchers, along with FAA personnel, aircraft designers and a host of others.

Learn to Fly Center: This is the place to discover how you can make your dream of flight a reality. You'll learn what you need to know, including time and financial commitments, so you’re ready to begin your own flying experience.

Aviation Learning Center: Discover the latest innovations in aircraft technology and ways to fly affordably at the Aviation Learning Center, which opened in 2009 and is located just east of the Forums Plaza.

Federal Pavilion: Take in exhibits, aircraft from the various government agencies, live radar and weather monitoring demonstrations, and interactive displays, including the Wright Flyer and NOAA Hurricane simulators.

Exhibit Buildings: Just about everything available in aviation is there. Instruments, avionics, insurance, aircraft parts... the list goes on and on. Nearly 800 exhibitors participate at AirVenture.

The Main Events

Afternoon Air Show: Unique aircraft, from early air racers to historical airplanes, participate, along with the world's finest air show performers – all of whom are headliners on their own, but at Oshkosh are part of an all-star lineup in a daily three-hour spectacular.

Night Air Show and Daher-Socata Fireworks (Saturday): The world's top aerobatic performers light the night skies with an amazing picturesque display that wowed all in its 2010 debut. Fireworks, supported by Daher-Socata, and the always-breathtaking "Wall of Fire" cap off AirVenture's final night.

Opening Day Concert (Monday): Free for all Monday attendees, AirVenture kicks off with a big-time concert, courtesy of the Ford Motor Company, on ConocoPhillips Plaza following the Afternoon Air Show. Previous Opening Day concerts have featured Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, The Beach Boys, and Foreigner.

Winding Down

Ultralights in evening: The aerial displays don’t stop with the Afternoon Air Show. In the evening, head down to the south end of the flightline (take the tram to get there faster and rest your legs as a bonus) to see the unique Ultralights in action. Ultralight forums and exhibitors are also in this area.

Theater in the Woods: Located just south of ConocoPhillips Plaza, Theater in the Woods, supported by M&Ms, is the largest public gathering facility on the grounds and is home to a variety of educational and entertainment acts each evening, including Friday and Saturday night concerts that keep AirVenture rocking after the sun goes down.

Fly-In Theater: The walk-in theater, presented by Ford Motor Company and supported by Hamilton Watches, is reminiscent of the famous drive-in theaters of the past, complete with open-air seating and popcorn. Each evening’s show begins at approximately 8:30 p.m. with an introduction by a celebrity presenter, followed by a classic aviation film shown on a five-story-high projection screen.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2012: July 23-29; 2013: July 29-Aug. 4; 2014: July 28-Aug. 3;

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