AirVenture Off To An Upbeat Start

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The sprawling grounds were damp, and the skies were overcast Sunday at EAA AirVenture, but the crowds already were thick and the mood upbeat as this year's edition of the world's biggest airshow got ready for its Monday morning launch. The aviation economy, like the rest of the economy, may not exactly be booming, but the mood seems to be that it's better than it was and just maybe, the worst is over. A few new airplanes will be introduced here this week, there's lots of new technology to check out, and the crowds will have plenty to entertain them, with the Thunderbirds and the Valdez STOL competitors performing for the first time, plus Kenny Loggins, a night airshow, and the usual roster of top-notch airshow performers. Other highlights include an expanded job fair for the career-minded, events to commemorate the centennial of World War I, and lots of learning opportunities for those ready to hone their pilot skills. Even the weather looks promising, with temps projected in the high 70s all week, and just a few passing showers or thunderstorms.

The aviation press will get less sleep than usual, with what seems to be an almost unreasonable number of news conferences scheduled all week long -- by Monday night, there will have been 29 of them, and Tuesday to Thursday are not much slower. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton continues to hold a steady course for the organization, the tower is fully staffed by FAA controllers (which EAA will pay handsomely for), and thousands of volunteers are on site, ready, willing and able to make it all work. This will be the first AirVenture without EAA founder Paul Poberezny, and special tributes in his honor are scheduled throughout the week. "Paul reminded us every year that Oshkosh is EAA's annual family reunion," Pelton said on the eve of opening day. "The airplanes brought us together, but friendships we make here, and anywhere people fly, keep us together."

AVweb's staff is already on site and hard at work, and will bring you all the news, plus photos, podcasts, blogs and videos, every day through the end of the show.