EAA Statement Sparks Concerns

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AirVenture Cup race organizers are seeking to clarify a communication they received Thursday from EAA that they say could put the future of the race in question. An email sent Thursday from Chad Jensen, EAA homebuilt community manager, to Eric Whyte, chairman of the race's contest committee, reads in part, "EAA will no longer be associated with air racing in any form going forward." However, Kandi Spangler, who handles public relations for race organizers, told AVweb Friday that "EAA wants us to have the race and we want to have the race." She added, "If EAA is pulling out and not giving us the support we need, the race will likely be cancelled. But as it sits now, I feel good about the direction we're heading and the possible outcome." As of late Friday, the official public position from all parties was that the 2012 race had not yet been cancelled, as EAA officials and race organizers sought to clarify the nature of their relationship.

Race organizers Friday told AVweb they had scheduled a meeting with EAA officials to clarify the race's needs, EAA's position, and in what capacity EAA would, or would not, support the event. EAA communications director Dick Knapinski told AVweb Friday afternoon that he was not yet aware of such a meeting. At issue are differences between EAA officials and race organizers in their understanding of the role EAA will play in the race going forward. Race organizers told AVweb they have never seen themselves as a separate organization, but believed they were working as a volunteer group within EAA. And that volunteer group's understanding is that it has for the past 14 years organized the AirVenture Cup experimental aircraft race as an official EAA event. A statement released by EAA Friday said in part, "Since last year, there have been discussions with race organizers on better defining the event and its relationship to EAA, including clarifying name and branding elements." Race organizers hope to have a better understanding of that relationship, soon, and will then consider how, or if, the race will continue.