By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
EAA's estimate of 535,000 in attendance for this year's AirVenture Oshkosh seems to set a new low since 1998's high of 855,000 (when the Concorde graced the grounds of Oshkosh for the fifth and final time), but there may be some simple reasons for that. "We've changed the way we count attendees," EAA communications director Dick Knapinski told AVweb, Friday, "and we're confident our estimates for more recent years are more accurate than those from a decade ago." The estimates made by EAA still count each person anew, each day, including those who stay for multiple days. Knapinski guesses the larger attendance totals likely break down into roughly 200,000 separate bodies visiting the field, some for numerous days. That said, AirVenture 2010's count was hampered especially in its first days by some of the wettest pre-show weather the region has seen in decades. But other reasons may have factored in, too.
The storms that hit just prior to the show left the grounds unfit for aircraft when many aircraft and campers would otherwise have made their arrivals. After the storms left, some aircraft attempting to make early arrivals from the east faced headwinds of roughly 50 knots. All told, the weather was not inviting and it likely caused delayed arrivals if not canceled trips. Aside from weather, the show's attendance may also have been negatively affected if the broader audience (general population) failed to recognize a single major draw akin to last year's A380 superjumbo arrival or, prior to that, Rutan's SpaceShipOne and WhiteKnight, or 1998's Concorde. So while EAA's estimates have fallen since their 1998 high, (which, again, was calculated by different, and per EAA, less accurate math) the numbers have held in the 500,000's since 2006. And while 2010's estimate of 535,000 may appear to set a new post-1998 low, that may not be the case. Knapinski says that when current formulas were applied to 2008, they resolved an even lower number of 515,000. There's always next year.