Why Is Boeing Here at Oshkosh?

More than a few people have been surprised to see Boeing become a major sponsor and presence at Oshkosh.

The main aircraft display ramp is now named Boeing Plaza.

What’s going on, they have asked me. Isn’t Oshkosh about personal and recreational aviation?

The answer is yes, Oshkosh is about personal and private flying. But it’s really about everything that flies.

What Boeing, Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, Embraer, Pratt & Whitney, GE and dozens of other major aerospace companies have done is puncture the myth that any segment of aviation can operate in isolation.

There is even a real rocket company, ATK, here talking about a mission to Mars.

Of course the homebuilt airplanes, antiques, ultralights, warbirds and standard category GA airplanes are all still here. The aerospace guys haven’t taken over. But they have joined in.

A major reason for Boeing and the other industry giants to pay attention to Oshkosh and the hundreds of thousands of people who come here is to find the next generation of pilots, technicians, engineers and all of the skilled people the industry needs going forward.

Boeing announced results of a study showing the world’s airlines will need 533,000 new airline pilots and 584,000 new maintenance technicians over the next 20 years.

Nearly half of those jobs will be in the rapidly expanding Asia/Pacific region. But in North America jobs will open up for 88,000 new airline pilots.

Boeing and its Jeppesen charting and training division have formed a new program to screen and train future airline pilots from scratch. Boeing and Jeppesen have a global reach, but even they can’t train enough pilots for future demand. It’s an industry challenge that everyone needs to pull together to solve.

The presence of the industry giants in Oshkosh is a long term investment in today’s young people who are the future of aerospace. Interesting kids in the sciences and math aerospace needs is essential, and showing them what a career in aviation can be is the best way to accomplish that goal.

Another reason for the big companies to be at Oshkosh is that the grassroots have long been the source of people to fly, build and maintain airplanes of all sizes and types. The military once was a reliable source for well trained pilots and technicians but those days are gone. People interested in airplanes must now be the source for future skilled workers in aviation.

There is also what marketers call the “influencer” story at work. An influencer is somebody who won’t necessarily buy a Boeing, or select Rockwell Collins avionics, or sign off on a new military contract, but who is in a position to influence that decision.

The challenge is that nobody can be sure who the influencers are. And we certainly can’t know which of the young people here at Oshkosh will succeed in their careers to become very important influencers.

At Oshkosh you can’t be sure who that person walking along in casual clothes looking like the rest of the crowd really is. But we can be sure that within the hundreds of thousands who visit there are people who can make decisions of great importance in aerospace. And we can also be sure that many people here will be able to influence the decisions that are made.

On top of all of that Boeing reaches from the basic personal airplane all the way to the Dreamliner. For just $49 a year Jeppesen, a Boeing company, will sell you an annual subscription for your iPad or other tablet computer that contains every chart and all information for VFR flight in the U.S.

The price of a 787 Dreamliner? Well, that’s a little more. But Oshkosh and the people who come here have an interest, and impact, on that decision, too.

We who fly, build, repair and love airplanes really are part of one big family and Oshkosh is the family reunion.

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14 Responses to Why Is Boeing Here at Oshkosh?

  1. Steve says:

    The real question is …..what are the customs and border patrol people doing at OSH? Why are they wearing side arms and showing off their fancy 4 engine boats at an airplane event and why are they not protecting our borders in times such as this? What was the cost to taxpayers for this and why did their 4 door TESLA have a Hilton parking pass on the windshield? Aren’t they supposed to be in government vehicles? Boeing absolutely belongs in an Aircraft atmosphere but where did these guys come from and for what purpose?

    • They’ve been pulled from areas where they can do their jobs making our Southern border almost an open border. Militia and national guard units, not under control of the feds have moved in to take over, so they might as well be there.

      • Steve says:


        My point is that Boeing should absolutely be involved in OSHKOSH from grass roots up. Why is Mac asking about Boeing when the real question should be why are the CBP at an experimental aviation event with their gun boats and wearing pistols to boot! Why are they driving 200 thousand automobiles and staying at the Hilton garden Inn while we pay for it? This is wrong and not a place for them to be at our expense ! Get their ASS back to the border and do what they ARE being paid for!
        Just my humble opinion.

    • Cliff says:

      Here’s what struck me about their presence at AirVenture: The Border Patrol has declared itself our enemy through unjustified stops and searches of general aviation aircraft. EAA’s response? ‘Come join the party.’

  2. For me, Oshkosh has always been about aviation. Everything aviation! Everything about flying and everything needed to fly. I had one of the first hand held Garmin’s, and it allowed me to file direct conveniently. I had RNAV so it allowed me to file direct, legally. The time the Manitowoc Wisconsin VOR was out and I asked for an offset to move the Greenbay VOR to Manitowoc Wisconsin the controller was surprised, but some one there said, sure. He just hadn’t heard that request for years. I’d file direct, Oshkosh, Manitowoc, Ludington (NDB) to 3BS (Now KIKW) as another VOR offset. The little hand held allowed me to do it with precision and the RNAV (KNS80) made it legal. Yes, I entered all the information in the KNS80 and NDB to keep me honest. An ATP flying with me said he’d never thought of that route direct. As they came out with new models I upgraded.

    I was in the process of upgrading ” the world’s oldest Debonair (s# CD-2) with new tip tanks and solid state lighting when the heart attack came. Very little was stock as was. I had planned on a glass panel as the next step. Range was from KIKW to Denver , or Orlando, non stop weather permitting. Last I heard, the new owner was going to add the glass panel.

    I always went a week early and worked as one of the chairmen. (Computer chairman for the home builders section) At one time their new computer program bore a surprising resemblance to the one I wrote for the homebuilders area. It gave the greeters all the information about the pilot, plane, home town, and times they had been there. It also listed the current parking spot by row and position.

    2 strokes and a heart attack have kept me from Oshkosh for the last 10 years or so. I can drive, but no longer fly and do not have the stamina for a week at Oshkosh. I’m not sure my legs would hold for a day over there either. Two strokes and a heart attack. I actually got my medical back after the first stroke and have an article in the ABS journal about it, but after the heart attack decided it was time to quit flying. The stroke and heart attack came without warning which was the deciding factor in quitting. So the Deb and Glasair III project have been sold. “They” tell me they found the reason and I shouldn’t have any more strokes, but I’m still working on getting back the fine motor control and range of motion in my left arm and hand.

    I miss it, but I’m more or less content at the nearly 2000 hours I flew in the Deb and the 375 in the Cherokee 180. The last hour I flew the gas cost more than all costs, fixed and variable per hour the first year of flying it.

  3. Mike Thomas says:

    Mac are you a paid consultant to Boeing, Jeppesen, or anyone else trumpeted in your Blog? EAA is about guys with a passion for home built experimental aircraft. It is not supposed to be a recruiting ground for “Asia Pacific” airline companies, Boeing, or Tesla. The soul of the EAA has been highjacked by big company and big government sponsors. Boeing Plaza? Seriously? And what about Homeland Security and Border Patrol. What are they doing at EAA? Wasting taxpayer money driving Teslas while running up a tab at the Hilton. What is a government boat with four outboard motors doing at EAA Oshkosh when the mission is home built experimental aviation? Sickening to see…..

  4. Eric7 says:

    Good points, Mac. EAA helps unite all of us who love airplanes and aviation. An airplane, is an airplane, is an airplane….. They are all beautiful and amazing.

  5. Larry Flesner says:

    While I agree with the CBP comments, I’m starting to tire of all the comments about the “big buck” companies taking over Oshkosh. It takes “big bucks” to put on an event the size of Oshkosh. I find it nearly overwhelming. But, the little guys are all still there for the “little guys” still in aviation. Builders forums, hands on demo’s, marketers for the merchandise we want, and on and on. The homebuilts are all there, the antique/classics, the war birds, the light sport, the helicoptors / gyro planes, are all there by the thousands. I was only there for a day and a half and skipped 95 percent of the show but the 5 % was all I needed this year. I enjoy seeing the “big stuff” even if it has no place I my life. They are all airplanes. Seek out what you want and ignore the rest. Just go and have a good time. The only place for “whining” is in a blues song. :-)

    • Bob says:

      I was interested in the big guys, because they’re the ones who gave me a job which lets me buy stuff from the little guys :)

      This is as much a recruiting event for them as anything else.

  6. Richard Montague says:

    I personally am very grateful to the big corporate sponsors for helping to enable and subsidizing my addiction. It is no bother to me to walk by their stuff to see all the things that do interest me. Their presence helps to show that aviation in all its forms is something to be reckoned with. I am puzzled by the CBP but perhaps they may actually get a better understanding of GA and use a bit of sanity in dealing with us.

  7. Jack says:

    Customs Air has been stopping small aircraft drug smuggling since the 1980′s. Not a new thing. They have also been at Oshkosh for several years. Military as well as FAA to help keep general aviation safe for all. Maybe you should blame states for going against federal law for drugs confusing the jobs for agents! Oh yea. AOPA did not like the aircraft stops in the 80′s either.

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