Oh, What a Week!
Ihave high expectations each year as we prepare for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Success can be measured in many ways—from attendance to the number of
airplanes arriving to exhibitor sales. Emotionally, I try to
gauge people’s attitude, expecting that they leave happier
as a result of their participation.
Anticipating AirVenture 2009’s turnout was a challenge
because of the economy. All the advance signs told me
that it was going to be a good convention. Little did I
realize it was going to exceed all expectations, including
my own. I always want to say each convention was “the
best ever.” As “Oshkosh” chairman for 30 years, I can say
2009 was the best ever, not only because of the programs
and airplanes, but also because the extensive convention
site changes were well-received
by everyone, contributing to this
The numbers speak for themselves. Attendance was up 12 percent over last year. Exhibitors
experienced good to outstanding sales; some had record years.
People arrived expecting an emotionally charged week, and they
were not disappointed! They left fulfilled and happy. Yes,
there’s always constructive criticism, but it was minimal.
I’ve been asked why the attendance increased so significantly, especially in light of the economic conditions.
I think there are many reasons. First and foremost is the
long-term and deep relationship EAA members and their
families, as well as the aviation industry, have developed
with Oshkosh. This relationship is built upon a passion
for flight, family participation, outstanding programs,
value, and fun.
Most important for me, members and their families
had the attitude that they weren’t going to miss Oshkosh.
They wanted to be part of aviation at its best. You, the
members, have made AirVenture Oshkosh aviation’s premier event. This is a tribute to the dedication, hard work,
and planning of the volunteers and staff.
Throughout the week I shared the four P’s that define
EAA and AirVenture. They are:
• the planes that come to Oshkosh—the object of our
• the people who give life to the airplanes, developing
lasting relationships and sharing information with others;
• the passion that is deeper than just a passing interest.
More than enthusiasm, passion is a focused commitment;
• participation, one of the most important aspects of
EAA membership. EAA provides a variety of opportunities
for people to engage in aviation, whether it’s as a pilot,
builder, designer, innovator, or enthusiast.
During difficult times, people make choices. They
select activities that are the most important to them and
their families. This year proved that Oshkosh fulfills an
important need for those who are passionate about flying.
As members, you also can
be proud of the credibility
that AirVenture brings to EAA.
Visitors, especially first-timers,
marvel at the complexity and
wide variety of programs and
activities, and how operationally
it’s executed so smoothly. More
importantly, they appreciate the
attitude of the volunteers and
staff who make all this possible. Oshkosh is presented to
the highest of standards, with deep respect for the attendees. There’s no event in the world like AirVenture!
The Oshkosh experience is not just one week a year anymore. Our new online community, Oshkosh365, delivers
useful information such as aviation news, weather, and a
digital version of EAA Sport Aviation. During AirVenture,
the “blue-dot webcam” was extremely popular, providing
a real-time connection to viewers all over the world.
But Oshkosh365 is more than just another website. Through private messages and discussion forums,
Oshkosh365 has helped members reconnect with old
friends and make new ones. The online forums are full of
interesting discussions and lively debates; even the image
on the cover of the magazine you’re reading now was
chosen after a spirited online vote at Oshkosh365.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009 will launch EAA into
an even brighter future, as we expand the world of flight,
inviting tens of thousands of people to become part of
our exciting aviation world.
Most important for me,
members and their families had
the attitude that they weren’t
going to miss Oshkosh.