EAA Chairman and Acting President Jack Pelton says the organization will not change a fundamental policy and pay appearance fees for certain aircraft to attend AirVenture Oshkosh. Pelton was commenting on a decision by Fighter Factory President Jerry Yagen to have his exceptionally rare Second World War demonstration aircraft steer clear of the big show this year. Yagen is now lining up dates for his recently completed Mosquito fighter bomber and a new-build version of an Me. 262 jet fighter but he says he won't bring them to Oshkosh unless EAA pays him to do so. Yagen told AVweb he believes other warbird owners feel the same as he does and some will also boycott the show. "Sorry to say that the days of bringing such expensive airplanes all across the countryside for free will most likely not happen again," Yagen said. He said he thinks there has already been a perceptible decrease in the number of warbirds at AirVenture and that it will escalate. He also said he doesn't think AirVenture should pay for all warbirds to attend but that there should be compensation for aircraft like the Mosquito and Me. 262 that will be major drawing cards to the event. Pelton said Yagen's request is not only financially impractical, it would require EAA staff to perform the impossible task of determining which aircraft warrant funding.
In an interview with AVweb, Pelton said EAA is a membership organization that provides a safe, secure and welcoming venue for members to display their aircraft. "We just don't pay for exhibits to show up here," he said. Pelton said some exhibitors have sponsors for their aircraft and use the high visibility of the Oshkosh show to promote the businesses and organizations that support them. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said he's unaware of any movement to avoid the show and that warbird attendance varies from year to year between 350 and 425 aircraft. He said the total number of show aircraft is about 2,500.