AirVenture Final Numbers Tell An Impressive Story


In revealing the final statistics for EAA AirVenture 2021—aka “Oshkosh”—which ended last weekend, EAA CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton said, “We went into this year not knowing what AirVenture would look like and how big of an event was possible. The aviation community spoke loudly, though—it was ready to come to Oshkosh and we were happy that we could welcome them. Our theme was ‘The Wait is Over,’ and indeed it was. And the wait was worth it.”

Approximately 608,000 attendees passed through the turnstiles, marking just the third time attendance has surpassed 600,000. The final tally was within 5 percent of 2019’s record total, according to EAA. Of that number, some 40,000 attendees camped on-site, occupying more than 12,000 combined campsites including aircraft and drive-in visitors.

Aircraft on display totaled 3,176, led by a record 1,420 vintage aircraft. There were also 1,089 homebuilts on the grounds, 354 warbirds, 148 aerobatic aircraft, 112 seaplanes, 33 ultralights and 27 rotorcraft.

More than 10,000 aircraft flew into Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and satellite overflow airfields such as Appleton and Fond du Lac. In the 10-day period from July 22 to 31, at Wittman Field alone, the FAA counted 16,378 aircraft operations associated with the event, averaging approximately 116 takeoffs or landings during every hour the airport was open.

Exhibitors totaled 747, and there were 1,055 educational sessions and other meetings on-site. EAA registered 567 media representatives covering the show from four continents. As always, the corps of volunteers contributed to the success of AirVenture with more than 5,000 people putting in greater than 25,000 hours on the job. The overall economic input for Winnebago and the four surrounding counties is estimated at $170 million, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

“Planning is well underway for next year’s event,” said Pelton, “including discussions during AirVenture 2021 about possible features and attractions for 2022. We also look forward to welcoming more international visitors next year to return AirVenture to a truly global reunion.

“This [year] was perhaps the most challenging set of circumstances we’ve ever faced as an organization to make the event happen. I could not be more proud of our volunteers.”

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  1. Airventure 2021 was my 39th year in attendance since 1977. I would support the above reported numbers as being realistic. It wasn’t the biggest but it was busy. More than anything else, I’d say that everyone was ready to be out and about and enjoy what they love … aviation in all of its forms.

    My biggest disappointment … was the FAA Administrator telling us all that it’ll take four years to fix LODA and MOSAIC has to run its course. My greatest enjoyment was marching in the Friday Veteran’s parade and hearing Medal of Honor winner MGen Patrick Brady speak to us. I’d say that there wasn’t any great announcement ALTHOUGH … a high wing RV-15! Hmmm … The weather generally cooperated — despite Wednesday evening’s storm — albeit it was hot early in the week.

    Overall … I’d rate Airventure 2021 as a total success and a real treat. But then, what else would we expect from EAA ?

    • A bushy-type Vans is exciting news. I have been debating a Rans S21, but will now wait to see what Vans comes up with. Hopefully it will have a ridiculous amount of power on the nose. One would imagine that as many components as possible will come from existing products, like, for example, the RV14 firewall, if the 15 is not tandem. While dimpling and countersinking is no big deal, finding a willing partner to buck rivets at 10:00 PM is a pain in the posterior, so I hope Vans goes with blind flush rivets. Yeah, pulled rivets cost more, but the money saved in beer for helpers should offset the additional kit cost.

  2. I heard the 608,000 attendance figures–but also that it did NOT include the volunteers and the UNPAID attendance–the FREE ADMISSION for kids under 18–partially subsidized by Boeing.

    Can anyone verify whether these figured did or did not include the unpaid attendance (kids and volunteers)?

    NOT mentioned above–EAA membership hit an all time high, with over 244,000 members. Membership sank slightly in 2020, as most members joined during a convention–that’s their “anniversary date–and there WAS no convention for them to re-up that year. They’ve regained and surpassed their previous membership high.

    My take–“It wage HUGE–but smaller.” Huge in the early arrivals, number of attendees, number of campers–smaller number of exhibitors, no “superstar aircraft” (though the military “biggies” are always impressive). SMALLER–no big evening entertainment, fewer Forums, fewer featured aircraft on the flight line (DC-3s, former Oshkosh winners, Featured rare aircraft in front of Vintage, etc.) No huge announcements or ground=breaking aircraft.
    Disappointment–one of the very few operational U-2s “spy planes” reportedly appeared (I didn’t see it–“I SEE NOSSINK!”) without fanfare or explanation. I’d like to have examined it myself.

    All in all, it was amazing that it happened AT ALL–the decision was still in doubt as late as March. Congrats to the EAA for pulling this off–AND THANKS!

  3. I am blessed with a flying job that kept me flying throughout it all.. Finally, back to OSH.. Two days of walking around in the heat and humidity, enjoying evening storms ( I road that one out in a hotel in Fond du lac), in and out of vendor booths, up and down the flight line, checking out airplanes I’ve seen for the first time and in times past.. “Ears and Eyes” and my heart racing.. A true Aviation Mecca .. And I absolutely loved it.. Oshkosh is back..!!

  4. 38th EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In for me including two at Rockford. A year away REALLY made itself felt as soon as I got onto the grounds. I guess I hadn’t realized how much of a recharge I get from the event. I was there Wed-Fri and wished I had been able to spend the week but it didn’t work out. Wednesday was as crowded as I’ve ever experienced, adn the buzz of density was clearly diminished Th-Fri in showplane parking and camping after many people flew out due to potential bad weather. I’m sure the numbers would have been even more impressive otherwise. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the drive-in camping areas so jammed.

    Of course it’s impossible to see everything, even over an entire week. As usual I had to pick and choose where I wanted to be, and even though the sense is that there were no real show-stoppers, I was not disappointed in any way. I chose to stay off the buses due to social distancing so no seaplane base nor museum this year, but after all I had only 3 days anyway. And I rarely ride the trams because it’s like riding a bus through an art gallery – you can do it but the inability to stop at will to focus your interest sort of defeats the purpose, unless your feet are screaming. Each day I walked from Warbirds to the lightplane runway, and not point-to-point, typically patrolling the rows to get a look at as many interesting airplanes in showplane parking as possible, a different path each day. My regular OSH companion with her mostly-reliable FitBit couldn’t make it this year so I have no idea how much mileage I put on, but then she rides the trams when she feels the need. All I know is it’s a week later and my feet are still screaming.

  5. For years in a row now (minus last year of course), I’ve participated as a vendor, and it was great to see the masses return to the greatest aviation event on earth. While there were noticeably fewer international participants for obvious reasons, the enthusiasm of those attending was infectious, and it was great renewing acquaintances and forming new ones. Welcome back!

    Hats off to the EAA and volunteers who pull this off with military precision and class. I can’t imagine the preparation it takes to organize such an event, and to keep everything clean, orderly, safe and on schedule. While mother nature always seems to throw a temporary wrench in the works, this team does a marvelous job of regrouping and minimizing delays and inconvenience…the show must go on!

    Thanks for an always great experience.