Every year a new and important segment of aviation—no make that the broader term of aerospace—learns what we AirVenture veterans have known for years. This really is America’s national air show, and it’s the best in the world.
This time it was Boeing’s turn to be convinced. Though the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been on display at some of the most famous international aviation shows, such as the semi-annual Paris Salon, the Boeing people had never encountered such an enthusiastic reception as here at Oshkosh. Not only was the throng around the glamorous Boeing the biggest anywhere, the aviation knowledge and involvement of the people here was also the best found anywhere.
Airbus learned the same lesson when it brought the giant A380 to Oshkosh in 2009. The biggest civilian airplane in the world received a reception that stunned the people from Airbus. They had no idea how diverse the aviation interest and expertise of the AirVenture attendee really is.
While the big airplanes appearing on ConocoPhillips Plaza drew enormous crowds, so did Bob Hoover. The legendary fighter pilot turned air show star attracted enormous crowds wherever he appeared during the week.
It was the same for Burt Rutan, designer of a bunch of quirky flying machines who had announced his retirement earlier this year. People could not get enough of Burt’s stories of how he dreamed up airplanes that are lopsided—he called it the Boomerang—or carried enough fuel to make it all the way around the world nonstop as the Voyager did.
Homebuilders are still at the core of EAA and AirVenture and I’m happy to say their numbers are growing. The sea of RV homebuilts, each displaying the hard work and attention to detail of its owner, is simply amazing.
I spend more of my time looking at the antiques, classics and warbirds than at any other category of airplanes. Richard Collins and I used to walk through the antique and classic area and he’d recall that he flew many of those airplanes when they were new. The same thing is now happening to me. And thanks to the preservation and restoration efforts of EAA members the number of flyable antiques and warbirds is actually increasing, not shrinking as you would expect.
Major manufacturers are increasingly timing big new product announcements for AirVenture because they know they will receive the highest possible visibility. Rockwell Collins, one of the grandest and oldest names in avionics manufacturing was here as a major sponsor, and to pull the wraps off first ever touch screen control of the primary flat glass displays in its Fusion avionics system.
On the other end of the spectrum of products being exhibited here was at the Fly Market where, if you took enough time looking, you would almost certainly find that unique bolt, or nut or switch or spring or whatever to finish your airplane project.
Though it is the airplanes and all that goes into making them fly that attracts us to Oshkosh every year it is the people who bring AirVenture to life. Being surrounded by so many people sharing the same passion is an annual refresher and reminder of why we love aviation so much.
What is AirVenture? America’s national air show, that’s what. Who is an EAAer? Anyone who wants to be around anything and everything that flies. I can’t wait for next July to be here again.