AirVenture Protest A Bad Idea At A Bad Time

55

There’s a weird disconnect in aviation that is taken for granted but kind of hard to explain in the context of the current state of affairs. 

It would be a fairly safe assumption, I think, that most pilots think of themselves as being decisive, independent sorts who can think on their feet. Anyone without those qualities would probably find that aviation isn’t for them.

Pilot jokes notwithstanding, that’s not to say pilots are necessarily a subset of society but I think we see ourselves in those jokes if we’re being honest. 

It’s that independent streak that has me puzzled in light of recent events. What’s amazing is that it survives participation in one of the most highly regulated and controlled activities imaginable. The system is built on strict adherence to policy, procedure and regulation. Conformity is not only required, it’s celebrated. Respect for fellow pilots hinges on their knowledge of the rules and their skills in following them. We are quick to scorn those who waver.

That’s because our lives and those of others can depend on it, not often for most of us, but enough that the best of us practice and polish and review and research to stay on top of our game.

The pandemic has turned a lot of things upside down but flight safety remains the fundamental principle of all aviation activity and that means following the rules, for the most part.

So it’s kind of perplexing that some kind of rebellion is brewing in reaction to the cancellation of AirVenture 2020. I’ve seen some references to a “protest” fly-in during the week that AirVenture would have been held and when I contacted EAA to see if they knew anything about it they were already addressing it.

I’m certainly not as plugged in as the folks in Oshkosh and it seemed far-fetched to me but EAA staff and the local airport authority considered it enough of an issue that they felt the need to release public statements about it.

What’s more puzzling to me is the “protest” reference. What, exactly is being protested? We’re all disappointed that the big show is skipping this year but there was no way it could be held and we’ve already dealt with why in this space. Anyone who thinks Chairman Jack Pelton made the call as a tool of some vast far-left conspiracy to threaten our rights and turn us all into communists doesn’t know Jack.

What will be really interesting is what happens if this thing catches fire. In its statement, Wittman Regional Airport stressed that it has parking for a limited number of aircraft on the terminal and Basler ramps and there will be no camping or any other facilities available. That the specific references to camping and parking on the grass were made suggests that some kind of occupation of the airport was being envisioned in the social media chatter.

It’s clear that the grass will be off limits and just showing up isn’t going to change that. If things get out of hand I imagine the contract tower controllers will simply turn aircraft away.

For those who get in, the only options are parking on the ramp and finding a hotel to stay in. The good news there is that rooms should be available at all the places that have years-long waiting lists for AirVenture and it shouldn’t cost a mortgage payment for a night’s stay. For those who don’t get in, there’s always Fond du Lac.

I love AirVenture but I’ll find something to do for that week. Maybe we’ll go to the lake and cook up some bratwurst for old time’s sake.

But I definitely won’t be making a pest of myself trying to press a spurious point that will confuse and divert from the real issues that will result from the COVID mess. 

At this point, a 2021 AirVenture is far from a sure thing and we all have the freedom to make the choices that will give it a better chance to go forward. I can’t see how this “protest” will help.

Other AVwebflash Articles

55 COMMENTS

  1. “ What’s more puzzling to me is the “protest” reference. What, exactly is being protested? ”

    What’s not to get here?

    You can’t get a haircut due to social distancing and COVID. But it’s perfectly acceptable to “protest” and throw rocks at the barber shop.

    You can’t participate in “mass gatherings” such as birthday parties and backyard Bar-B-Ques, but you can gather by the thousands if you call it a “protest”.

    You can’t go to church, but it’s OK to burn one down in “protest”.

    So then, it’s perfectly fine to do whatever you want to do, just as long as you call it a “protest”.

    Say you want to meet up with a few hundred like-minded individuals at a certain airport on a certain day. If you call it a fly-in, you can’t do that. But if you call it a protest, you’re good to go.

    • I would love to know what propaganda is being referenced in the above comment. Is it the 2.1 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the US so far? Maybe the 20,000 new cases reported in the US yesterday alone? Possibly the 118,000 people who have died in the US from the virus in less than 5 months? How about the fact that 5% of the people in the US who’ve contracted it have already died? Is that propaganda? “Fake news” that we should simply ignore? SMH

      • I’m not sure if Phil meant it this way, but the “propagandizing mainstream media” could also refer to certain “news” sources that are claiming covid isn’t a big deal. Since some of the pilot population follows those news sources, that would make it a contributing factor to this Airventure “protest”.

        Certainly, certain elected officials have outright abdicated their responsibilities at handling covid, and that is also a big contributing factor.

      • Brian S. Yes, indeed. Fake news should be scrutinized and ignored. Possibly the 118,000 people who have died in the US from the virus in less than 5 months??? Who did you get that from? Not the CDC. More like CNN. What demographic was affected by this “flu”? Aha…Old people (with medical issues) and blacks primarily. That counts for over 95% of the “supposed” cases of death which have also been shown to be exaggerated. NY supposedly inflated their deaths by 52%, (Also, NY forced retirement homes to take in infected people and guess where most of their deaths happened?) Illinois 35%, Colorado 30%, see the trend here…who rules these States? When you do your homework and seek the truth you will see that yes, indeed this COVID 19 was very contagious. But the elderly with health issues were the ones truly at risk. Just as with the regular flu which killed over 600,000 last year. This has been Chicken Little Syndrome on Steroids. And the trend in our country these days seems to be “If I’m scared, I’m going to scare you too”. My wife was tested positive. She had a fever for about 3 days and it went away just like the flu people have been getting for decades. I’m actually an at risk person 64 yrs old with a lung condition. I didn’t get it at all. That’s real news.

        • > Just as with the regular flu which killed over 600,000 last year.

          I’m not sure which specific year you mean, but I checked the CDC’s website for the data you claim. The CDC reported roughly 75,000 deaths due to flu in the 2017-2018 flu season, and 34,000 deaths in the 2018-2019 flu season. Where are you getting your numbers Doug?

          • Yes, we hear these fake news claims and in the same paragraph absurd “statistics” like 600,000 deaths from the flu in a year.

            I have to assume that is supposed to be in the US since it is being compared to a US figure, but then when compared to the population of the US and life expectancy, that number suggests maybe 1 in 5 Americans dies from the flu. If that were true, then yes, the flu is a much worse pandemic and we should be treating it that way!

        • “Possibly the 118,000 people who have died in the US from the virus in less than 5 months??? Who did you get that from? Not the CDC.”

          Right you are. As of 6/15, the CDC is reporting 115,000 deaths, not 118,000. And they also disagree with Brian’s assertion of “20,000 new cases reported in the US yesterday alone” – they’re reporting over 25,000 new cases.

          But, of course, it’s all Fake News anyway.

      • The “propaganda”, is supporting protest as a legal right(which it is), and then vilifying those who want to provide for their families by going to work.

        If I want to block off a 6 block section of a city, camp out for days on end with hundreds, maybe thousands of other individuals, not practicing social distancing mind you, so long as I’m protesting, I will be championed by the media.

        If I want to gather with maybe a hundred individuals once a week for an hour to worship, I will be vilified by that same media.

        How in the world does COVID know that I’m going to get a haircut or, that I’m going to the barbershop to burn it down? If I get a haircut and then burn down the barber shop, will COVID pass me by? Will the media support me in the burning down of the barber shop, only to disavow me after it learns that I received a haircut?

  2. Sadly I see many (too many) folks who just don’t get how bad Corvid has affected the public and why large/small/any gatherings need to be avoided at all costs. I live in a densely populated area (NYC) and we were hit HARD by this insidious disease….I know first hand how bad this is IN REAL LIFE. I didn’t/don’t need any media telling me what or how bad this really is. My brother even got it and thankfully survived it……Any kind of large gathering can and should be avoided for ones own safety/health Thankfully Jack saw this and did something about it. Calling him a pawn or dupe is just plain STUPID and all who think this is some kind of joke are more than welcome to visit us here in NY and see first hand how serious this really is, it’s still here, it hasn’t “gone away”…

    For those who are protesting, it’s their right to do so, as in it’s illegal to stop them from doing it, and with the proper precautions it can be done. Sometimes a message has to be put through no matter the cost and folks everywhere are seeing this and doing it. Does that make it safe and a smart thing to do for ones own health? Nope. But it IS their LEGAL choice and in this case I agree with it. To compare Oshkosh to what is being protested is ludicrous and dumb. Most of the flying population that visits Oshkosh is older, very susceptible to Corvid and should NOT be going there anyway, Jack knows this and acted accordingly. Don’t knock the man or organization for caring about your health and well being and wait till next year, I’m sure it’ll be a blast!

    • “For those who are protesting, it’s their right to do so, as in it’s illegal to stop them from doing it, and with the proper precautions it can be done.“

      My point exactly.

      Of course it’s their legal right to protest. Go. Protest all you want.

      But apparently, given some news sources and political ideologies: I have no right to go to church. I have no right to go to work to provide food and shelter for my family.

      I have no right to gather in my backyard with like minded individuals(unless of course these like minded individuals are there to “protest”.)

      I receive most of my household supplies via Amazon and other on-line sources. I still, and will for some time, practice social distancing. That’s my decision. Not anyone else’s.

      But to champion one group who will not practice social distancing, and in the same breath chastise another for wanting to go to work or gather, just like the protestors, is not only disingenuous, but evil.

      “Rights for me, but not for thee”

  3. It’s sad to see fellow pilots behaving so blatantly irresponsibly. Particularly those pilots who have access to airplanes that they can fly to Oshkosh (I don’t know how far-reaching this “protest” is), which I assume for some is more than just a local flight to them.

    I’m as disappointed as the next pilot that Airventure has been canceled this year (I already had in mind which events I was going to attend and was particularly looking forward to it this year, with my planning for it having started LAST summer when I wasn’t able to attend). But I also have a fair idea of what goes into planning something as large as Airventure, along with how much lead time is required. Even if it was 100% certain that covid would be completely gone by late-July (in fact, it’s 100% certain that it WON’T be gone by then), canceling still would have been the right thing to do because preparations would have had to begin during the middle of the spike in cases. And unlike other events, EAA actually waited as long as possible before canceling the event.

    The worst part is, these “protestors” (and they’re not actually true protestors) are only going to increase the perception that all pilots are just spoiled rich brats who don’t care about others. People are out protesting actual social injustices, while a few spoiled pilots are out “protesting” that they’re upset covid forced a cancelation of their favorite social event.

  4. I would like to propose an alternative plan. I propose that on July 20, the date OSH would have opened, that we all wear our OSH shirts from years past and post a photo of ourselves doing so to social media in support of the EAA. They made an extremely hard financial decision solely to protect the safety of their venders and guests. We should show our solidarity and support through such.

  5. Sad to see that pilots can be as willfully ignorant as any in the general population. Obviously the skills to fly a plane don’t confer judgement in other areas and certainly not basic humanity, judging by the comments. Thanks for reporting on this…it is aviation news and very appropriate that AvWeb take a position on it.

  6. >…most pilots think of themselves as being decisive, independent sorts who can think on their feet. What’s amazing is that [perception] survives participation in one of the most highly regulated and controlled activities imaginable. The system is built on strict adherence to policy, procedure and regulation. Conformity is not only required, it’s celebrated.

    This seeming dichotomy is not a mystery at all. Conformity is required—and should be celebrated—for Normal Procedures. Being decisive and able to think on your feet is required—and should be celebrated—for those situations when Normal Procedures no longer apply. In fact, it’s allowed for and expected by regulation:

    14 CFR § 91.3 (b): In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

  7. It may be that we are not in control of the ings affecting us.

    Control is defined as “the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.” Many of us expend a great deal of energy in life trying to get it, maintain it, and not lose it. When we are not in control, we know it. Would you like to be the hockey puck or the hockey stick? For us in Florida, would you want to be the golf ball or the golf club? The puck and the golf ball are “in the game”, but neither one is in control.

    Pilots have many things to manage and keep under control when making a flight. Bringing it down to earth, drivers of a vehicle have many things they can control, such as the route to take on a trip, the decision to stay within the speed limit or not, and when to leave and start the journey. One thing that is not in our control if you are a pilot, a sea captain, or the key driver on a family vacation, is the weather.
    Weather is the one thing that we cannot control. It is consistently there, good or bad, and the only control we have over the situation is how we decide to deal with it.

    Presently many have said our country is out of control and we have issues we need to “weather”. Events have been thrust upon us such as Covid-19, mandates of stay-at-home orders, closing of schools, and canceling of events in our normal daily lives. After months have having Covid-19 controlling our lives and the resulting frustrations, add the death of George Floyd to a tense and frustrated society and you have the perfect storm. We are frustrated and angry because so much of what we are experiencing is out of our control. Using the hockey puck analogy, we have been “pucked” by events and situations we cannot control.

    In my opinion, much of our current political vitriol and divide is based on what we feel we can’t control, and what we would want to happen. Things can’t change because opposite sides have dug in so deep. If you took folks from both extreme sides of the issues, put them in two separate rooms and asked them to make a list of the things they want, not point fingers or blame at the opposite side, but identify what needs to change to have a functioning society, I expect the lists would be pretty much the same. We need to start listening to each other and finding common ground. Doing that we would have much more control over the outcomes we all want.

    • Actually, those lists would have very little in common. The Divide is quite real.

      Remember the 1890s Unilateral Nuclear Freeze movement? Today, it’s Abolish the Police. Same ignorant Leftist Utopian nonsense, from the same morons – who somehow KNOW what’s best for me.

  8. To help put things in perspective:
    COVID-19 has killed more Americans in the last 4 months than all the wars combined in the last 75 years.
    The current death rate for males 35 to 65 due to COVID-19 is higher than the death rate for all other causes of death combined.
    The US death rate for people that have tested positive for COVID-19 is over 5.5%.

    • You’ve cherry picked the death rate data.

      If both sexes and all ages are included, COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death in the US behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. But the fact that it stands on the podium at all should be a cause for concern since it was unknown six months ago.

      • Sorry if you think this is cherry picking. I think it is appropriate and specific data for the demographic of Oshkosh attendees and Oshkosh is exactly what we are talking about. By far, the majority of Oshkosh attendees are males 35 to 65. Please feel free to look at the EAA demographics.

    • Mark …one ability/skill that ANY Consummate, Safe, ‘Professional’ Aviator needs is Objective ‘Critical-Thinking’. The desire to gather as much data/information available, assess/analyze that information and utilize it to enable the most accurate conclusions which will facilitate the best course(s) of action.

      ‘WWll’ (only) Total Civilian and Military Deaths: 418,500

      Considering the woefully inadequate ‘testing’ available at present, the 2.1 million (so far) recorded number of infections is most probably VERY low. But, even utilizing that ‘Number’ for now, and the ‘reported’ Number of Deaths to date, which, considering that any ‘death’ is usually noted fairly quickly, investigated, recorded and reported with dispatch …making it reasonable to assume that ‘Reported’ number is fairly accurate … 115,000 …utilizing some basic ‘High-School’ Arithmetic, gives us a death-to infection rate of just under.055%.

      That’s 1/2 of 1 percent …NOT “5.5%!

      And …(world-over) reports would seem to indicate that 50-60% of that figure (unfortunately) fall to those of us who are in the 70+ year old age groups.

      The Hyperbole, “Chicken-Little(ing)” that has been and still continues over something that has such serious implications is astounding!

      even more so the ‘mindless’ callous way in which our fellow citizens continue to propagate all those wild forecasts and stats

      We …the ‘Human’ Race …has indeed a Long -Way-to- Go.

      • B.D. in the interest of accuracy, the official case fatality rate–not the infection rate–is 5.4 percent. There have been 118,279 covid-19 deaths in 2,182,540. in other words, the lower number is 5.4 percent of the higher number.

        The infection fatality rate remains a guess, but the lower bound is thought to be 0.5 percent and the higher bound 1.2 percent, these based on several seroprevalence studies. Data from other countries shows a similar range of IFRs.

    • Sadly you can not always go by their numbers. Talking to people who work in the funeral home business they are labeling heart attacks and car crashes as covid-19. Worse thing they did was offer money for each covid death to the states.

  9. One factor contributing to the polarization seen in the preceding Covid comments, and indeed everywhere, is probably the fact the pandemic has been reported, viewed and treated as a one-size-fits-all situation. We are now months into this nationwide crisis, disaster, whatever you call it. Economy trashed, life everywhere disrupted. And of course, the media (until they turned to the fresher & more entertaining protest stories) feeding the nation dramatic but curiously vague stories of overflowing hospitals with bodies lying in the hallways and stacked in cargo containers, frantic medical personnel heroically improvising ventilators out of duct tape and garden hoses, deaths in unprecedented numbers with exponential increases reportedly inevitable, and endless clips of politicians and experts of all stripes issuing seemingly off-the-cuff decrees that change daily.

    And yet – – As an already job-free retiree living in our – what? – call it a suburb of the suburbs area north of LA, it’s difficult to relate to or to reconcile this flood of doom & disaster pouring out of every media source with what our eyes and personal experience tell us. No one I know, including extended family and friends across the country as well as local, has contracted the virus, nor have they mentioned that any of THEIR friends have contracted it. In our three adjoining zip codes, population a bit over 60,000, as of today there have been 100 known cases and, as far as I can determine, zero deaths. I think it’s understandable that the presumably huge nationwide population group that shares our general experience may have a different “take” on what has happened and continues to happen.

  10. There are many EAA chapters around the country who are organizing their own flyins during the week of Airventure. Is this a protest? Perhaps. I’ve already been to one flyin already this year. Did we stay 6 ft apart? Mostly but there a fair number of people who were shaking hands with old friends. Did everyone contract Covid-19 from this gathering? Nope and all of us are still alive.

    Because we are pilots, we might assume that Covid-19 death reporting is as good as aviation accident data. This is far from the truth. Aviation accident reporting is very precise when compared to the death count data reported to the CDC. Death count data is actually fairly haphazard since it is reported by individual physicians. The recent guidelines have resulted in just about every death being coded as a Covid-19 death.

    • Deaths are reported to CDC by county and state health officials. You’re right that reporting guidelines have been recently expanded to include deaths of individuals who exhibited COVID-19 etiology but whose bodies were released without testing for SARS-CoV2 DNA or antibodies. The change was made to address systemic under counting of COVID mortality.

  11. Let’s hope the AirVenture Protest doesn’t get mis-understood as a right-wing (or is it left-wing?) fascist (or is it communist?) protest and the U.S. Military doesn’t use tear gas, nightsticks and rubber bullets on these defenseless, peacefully protesting pilots and their delicate airplanes, most of whom are just making their own statement on the UNFAIRNESS and DISAPPOINTMENT of not being able to go to their annual airplane show, and the order to ‘Dominate the runways and taxiways with compassion’ is never given…

    Whew, being Dominated at KOSH, an entirely new concept for a fly-in. Sounds a bit interesting though, no?

    Guess I’ll pass on this brainless – but legal and peaceful – protest.
    And the madness continues…

    • I still don’t get exactly what is being “protested” against. Disapproval that EAA wasn’t provided enough time to get the grounds ready for the show in time because of local lock-down rules? Or is it disapproval that EAA didn’t attempt to put on a majorly-scaled back show (that probably would have cost them more than just canceling all together)?

      There’s no doubt that it’s a big disappointment that there will be no Airventure this year. But there’s nothing unfair or unjust about it. And you know that if there was an outbreak of covid at the show that EAA would be sued for it.

  12. Response to this pandemic seems to follow the “Hot Stove” theory. Those who have accidentally touched a hot stove, their family members, and the treating physicians, and their friends, all understand a stove is hot and shouldn’t be touched.

    Then there’s another group that have heard the news that stoves are hot and shouldn’t be touched, but have never seen a stove, tend to believe they’re not really that hot, and are going out of their way to touch a hot stove anyway.

  13. Since this is an open forum, It seems reasonable that the FAA would be reading these posts and probably drawing these conclusions:
    – Anti-Authority (“It’s my right! Don’t you tell me I can’t go!”)
    – Invulnerability (“Only old/fat/diabetics will die – it won’t bother me!”)
    – Resignation (“Everybody’s gonna die some day!”)

    Given that the pilots planning on a protest-flight to Oshkosh have publicly self-identified with some (or all) of the Five Hazardous Attitudes in Aviation, all the FAA needs to do is send some field agents to Wittman Field during that week and ramp-check every plane that shows up. They’d bag their yearly quota of violators in one fell swoop.

    Hmm, maybe the easiest way to squash this protest is for the FAA to announce they’re showing up.

  14. Kirk W. May be right. But considering the lack of any guidance from the FAA on wearing medical masks or face coverings in pressurized cockpits ( dangerous as far as I am concerned) or in other aircraft, I seriously doubt the any FAA inspector would do that.

  15. Hi All: A bit late to this interesting thread; however, I would invite everyone to think about all the breaking news stories or even deeper dive news stories that they have every seen discussing an aviation topic … then consider all the things you noticed and quibbled with the reporter’s simplified, or even incorrect, presentation of that aviation complicated topic. You bring all your training and experience to bear on the aviation story and see that there really is far more to most aspects that are being considered and probably not a compelling narrative arc either.

    Why should we, as news consumers believe that the media’s handling of the Wuhan/Covid-19 stories be any better than those the aviation stores they do?

    My suggestion is epistemic humility … as non-epidemiologists, non-infectious disease, and non-virologists, we probably don’t really know what we think we may know from the media stories. In fact, the “experts” have themselves been wrong about almost every prediction they have made since January this year. Then filter what the actual experts say through the randomizer of the news media and the real facts/story is garbled as always by the media.

    The Wuhan/Covid story is just as jumbled as the last aviation story you complained about, and probably even more so, because there are so many actual unknowns about this (semi)novel coronavirus.

    Cheers,
    D

    • Excellent point.
      Meanwhile, the “scientific consensus” (an oxymoron) about Covid 19 changes daily.
      And the bureaucrats who exert unlawful control over our daily lives display a lower intellectual capacity than do the press.
      Welcome to Amerika 2020.

  16. Because many of are very angry and the hypocrisy we going on all over the USA and are disheartened by what we see happening to this great nation over what we perceive to be the left’s hysteria. We get that Covid-19 is real. We are also able to see that it primarily affects the sick and really old. It very rarely impacts anyone else. It has been used as a tool by power hungry and many times unelected individuals to exert their power. So yes, we can protest this BS too!! Those of us in aviation work really hard to enable our hobby. Most of us give a lot back to the community and we are strong in our beliefs and drive. We are not going to sit idly by and let other make us prisoners in our homes, watch while our businesses are closed and continue to be allow to be treated like children as if we are incapable of taking proper precautions and making rational go no go decisions. It’s time to wake up and start living our dreams again. Enough is enough!

  17. ‘Why should we, as news consumers believe that the media’s handling of the Wuhan/Covid-19 stories be any better than those the aviation stores they do?’
    and…
    ‘And the bureaucrats who exert unlawful control over our daily lives’…
    and…
    ‘We are not going to sit idly by and let other make us prisoners in our homes, …and continue to be allow to be treated like children’

    Poor dears. So much for pilots being steely-eyed, independent decision-makers who can think on their feet, eh? Get out of the cockpit and victimhood is the replacement for the lost rewards of personal command of an aircraft.

    Fake/Not-fake/BS news flash…..the media, government, politics, your neighbor, have no control over your personal freedom and peace of mind. None. Learn to discriminate and understand the imperfection of the world -and yourselves- and maybe victimhood could end up in the dust bin of experience. Or don’t. See the freedom you already possess without listening to the media or gubment? Can’t find kindness and goodwill in yourself toward others so need to get angry that you’re a helpless victim? Good grief, grow up.

    Thankfully, you sorry sorts are a minority of pilots – I could cite dozens of groups and fellow pilots who are selflessly working for others during this pandemic, giving their time and money with love and caring.

    Enough is enough indeed.

    • Dave, I think you’re off the mark. The whole point several of us are making is that we are steely-eyed and independent. We’re not waiting for the government to tell us what to do. We’re not staying at home nor on the ground. I also don’t think those of us that are willing to stand for our rights are the minority of pilots. I believe we are the majority and we are the ones that are generously giving our time to people in need and worthy causes. So we can agree to disagree. It seems to me there are so many bullies out there that one to ram their opinions down our thoughts and tell us what to believe it. Might be worth re-reading the Bill of Rights to see what this country was founded upon. Dictatorial and mob rule negates every vote we cast.

  18. Russ —

    I have no desire to protest nor can I understand those who have that attitude; EAA made the right decision. However, attending OSH is a tradition that’s been unbroken in our family since ’98, and I don’t want to miss it. I plan to fuel up at Basler, take a photo or two and get out of there. I’ll be wearing my official EAA “Airventure 2020” T-shirt (which has a special place together with my “Mighty Meigs — the little airport with the great big future” T-shirt).

    David