AirVenture By The Numbers: 2023 Was, Indeed, A Record Year

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This year’s EAA AirVenture event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was, in fact, a record setter. The official attendance announcement from EAA today (Aug. 1) cites overall turnstile clicks at “approximately 677,000—a record total” eclipsing last year’s tally of 650,000. According to EAA CEO and President Jack Pelton, “We had record-setting totals of campers, exhibitors, volunteers, and more. It was also a challenging year at times with weather, logistics, and other factors, which makes me even more proud of the efforts by our volunteers and staff to organize an outstanding event.”

Pelton added, “There was so much going on during the week that encompassed the entire world of flight, from the presence of the U.S. Air Force Training Command and NASA, to magnificent aircraft restorations and exciting new flying technology. Oshkosh was again the place that brought the aviation world together.”

By the numbers: More than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) and other nearby reliever airports. At KOSH “ground zero,” the FAA logged 21,883 aircraft operations in the 11-day period from July 20 to July 30. That works out to an average of approximately 148 takeoffs/landings per hour when the airport is open, according to EAA.

A total of 3,365 show planes were on display, including 1,497 registered in the vintage aircraft parking area (a record), 1,067 homebuilt aircraft, 380 warbirds (a modest increase of 3 percent over last year’s attendance), 194 ultralights, 134 seaplanes and amphibians, 52 aerobatic aircraft and 41 rotorcraft.

AirVenture hosted more than 1,400 forums, workshops, and presentations. And in the ever-increasingly-vital realm of social media, more than 18.3 million people tapped EAA’s social media channels during AirVenture 2023, a stunning 78 percent boost from last year’s numbers. Viewers logged more than 189,000 hours of EAA video clips (the equivalent of 21.6 person-years!), more than double the 2022 total.

As evidence of what is hopefully an increasing return to “normal” in the post-pandemic world, international visitors flooded back to the American Heartland in 2023, with 2,372 attendees registering the International Visitors Tent. That posted a tie for the all-time high of 93 countries represented.

And finally, in some ways the most significant, the EAA Aviation Foundation’s annual event supporting aviation education programs drew more than 1,000 people and tallied in excess of $2 million dollars toward supporting EAA’s efforts to grow participation in aviation.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. “cites overall turnstile clicks at “approximately 677,000”
    Well, those are people who cannot fly or people just there on vacation.
    Basically it’s like saying there was high attendance at an air museum.
    It’s hardly and indication that GA is rebounding or strong or even sustainable.
    I missed flying in this year because of smoke there and and an extended annual.
    Not sure how many more years I can still be an owner/pilot in the face of parts problems and/or the lack of people wanting to work on small planes…

  2. I guess you’re the Yang of the Ying-Yang symbol. Yes, there are bottlenecks of parts/labor to maintain a generally older GA fleet. Our self interest economic system will eventually fill that need, but the “market” will dictate how fast that need is satisfied.

    • If “the market” is going to be toy electric planes and $15/gal synthetic unleaded, then I’m glad that I won’t still be alive to witness such a dismal end to what used to be a vibrant and accessible GA.

  3. This was the first time in ten years that I’ve been able to attend more than three days of the show and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did my guest. Another outstanding fly-in! When people ask me “which Oshkosh was the best one you’ve seen?” I always answer “The most recent.”

  4. I was always under the impression that the years of the 50th anniversary of WWII were the all time record years, with over 700k attendance and 12,000 airplanes. On the other hand, Camp Scholler does appear to be getting larger every year. But one thing stood out for me – the Fisk arrival system seemed to be strained at times, and there were at least two (that I am aware of) unprecedented incidents of wrong way landings. This indicates a serious lack of attention to the NOTAM, and/or perhaps a lack of competence. One can only hope that they can get to the causes of those mistakes and prevent that sort of error from propagating.

    Oh, and the Karma overhang collapsed – the weather gave us the back of it’s hand, as things returned to the typical hot and humid of the 1990’s, rather than the idyllic near-autumn conditions we enjoyed over the last three gatherings! Oh well. that’s what the electric campsites are for!

  5. A non-pilot friend of mine loves to go to Oshkosh–but will never become a pilot due to a medical condition. He does know airplanes, and absolutely enjoys attending “the Big Show”–SO MUCH SO that he stayed in his motor home until days AFTER the show was done. He lamented his sadness that the show had come to an end. I sent the following in response:

    The Party’s Over–Another Oshkosh comes to an end.

    Every Oshkosh gathering usually has a “standout attraction “—or “big announcement”—this one didn’t seem to have one—perhaps it’s because we’re have been so used to the big events at Oshkosh that it’s hard to top the previous years.

    Despite the lack of a “headliner event”—the REAL story is that over 2/3 of a million people showed up for the “family reunion”—many of them making transcontinental trips. The level of airport activity puts even Chicago O’Hare to shame—and the participants are mostly private Pilots

    For the most part—EAA and the pilots handled the influx with equanimity—they prepared—and when confronted with the level of traffic (both in the air and on the ground)—they handled it well.

    Like any party—it’s always sad to see it come to an end—but we KNOW that in about 50 weeks—we will be getting ready to do it AGAIN!

    NO GROUP handles big crowds like EAA staff and supporters—(compare EAA events with NASCAR or sporting events!). Even a Billy Graham Crusade meeting doesn’t run as smoothly! (Smile). THINK about it—how many Law Enforcement Officers did you see there?

    Thanks go to Paul Poberezny—Founder of EAA—and his “Oshkosh Rules”—“Treat everyone with kindness, be respectful around all aircraft, pick up any trash you see on the grounds, and be sure to thank our volunteers who make it happen.”

    Put another way—WHAT OTHER ORGANIZATION COULD PUT ON AN EVENT OF THIS SIZE—and have it come off so smoothly?

    EAA staff, supporters, members, and attendees—take a WELL-EARNED BOW OF RECOGNITION!

    And like any big event—we can say “we were part of that—we were THERE!”

    • “no big announcement”? Didn’t the FAA finally publishing MOSAIC move the needle towards being a big announcement?

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