AirVenture: This Joint Is Jumpin’


As I was trooping around the grounds at AirVenture on Sunday prepping for today’s opening, my phone kept buzzing. I’m usually too engaged to even look at it, but when I did, I could see why it was squawking. I get text alerts on the traffic at Fisk and there were backups and delays all day on Sunday: FISK IN DELAY DUE TO HIGH VOLUME. It didn’t help that some unfortunate soul picked Wittman to have a gear-up landing, but hey, that’s OSH for ya. To whoever that was, when the pain subsides, you’re gonna have a hell of a story.

Having stood down for a year, I’m sure my imagination is adding to the perception, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such crowds on a Sunday before opening day. Parts of the grounds were closed off to allow trucks into the vendor area so it funneled people into unusual paths, but at times, I couldn’t navigate the golf cart through the masses. EAA’s Dick Knapinski told me advance ticket sales matched 2019 levels so I won’t be surprised if the daily gate is strong, too.

Canvassing the North 40 campers, I detected a mix of relief, determination and gusto to get out the house and see what the heck is happening in the rest of the world. And so here we are. As is the occasional tradition, there were some last-minute announcements, including Cessna granting my wish to have the SkyCourier twin here for the first time. It looks like there will be an unveiling in Boeing Square today, according to the revised press conference schedule. Given all the activity, I suspect there are going to be some other surprises here that those responsible for didn’t feel warranted a formal press conference. I have a strong suspicion there will be a major announcement concerning unleaded fuels. To say this is overdue is an understatement.

As Dick Knapinski mentioned in the preview video, there are some changes on the grounds, especially with regard to parking and procedures at the gates. Save yourself five bucks by getting your parking permit online and plan to ride the shuttle in from outlying parking areas. On the plus side, that will mean less walking just to get into show center. A caution here: It’s likely to be crowded on those shuttles and buses so don’t think you should just leave your masks at home. You may find yourself in situations where you want one. I did yesterday and, stupidly, I left it in the press trailer. EAA is leaving COVID-19 precautions up the individual, but don’t think that means the risk is zero. No one really knows what it is, but in big crowds like you’re likely to see here, it is anything but zero.

This year, for the first time, we may actually see—maybe for the first time—electric E-VTOLs fly. Volocopter is here and they plan to fly in the airshow. There’s at least one more similar aircraft, but I don’t know if it too will show that yes, it actually can fly. Boeing Square is going to be interesting, not the least of which is that the Luftwaffe is there. Yes, really. They’ve got one of their massive Airbus A400Ms out there. I would invite you examine that puppy from the front and contemplate who did the load analysis on the those eight-blade propellers. That’s above my pay grade, but I’m still enthralled to look at it.

More later. See you at the show.

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  1. Sadly I can’t make it this year. So, Paul, I’m counting on you to give us lots of good videos and reports on all the neat stuff. No pressure there! 😉

  2. 2019 BC Airventure’s Attendance: Approximately 642,000

    More than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin. At Wittman there were 16,807 aircraft operations in the 11-day period from July 19-29, approximately 127 takeoffs/landings per hour.

    Total showplanes: 2,758 including 1,057 homebuilt aircraft (including a record 592 homebuilt aircraft campsites), 939 vintage airplanes, 400 warbirds (6 percent increase), 188 ultralights and light-sport aircraft, 105 seaplanes (40 percent increase), 62 aerobatic aircraft, and 7 in other categories.

    Camping: More than 12,300 sites in aircraft and drive-in camping accounted for an estimated 40,000 visitors.

    Volunteers: More than 5,500 contributing in excess of 250,000 hours.

    Commercial exhibitors: 863

    Forums, workshops, and presentations: A total of 1,500 sessions attended by more than 75,000 people.

    EAA aircraft flights: 3,051 people flew aboard EAA’s Ford Tri-Motors, while 3,173 people flew aboard EAA’s Bell 47 helicopters and 669 flew aboard EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast.

    Social media, internet, and mobile: More than 17.6 million people were reached by EAA’s social media channels during AirVenture; EAA’s website had more than 2.1 million page views; EAA video clips during the event were viewed 4.5 million times; and EAA’s 2,740 photo uploads were viewed more than 13.3 million times. Additionally, EAA web streams were accessed more than 1.6 million times by viewers in more than 200 countries, who watched more than 315,000 hours of activities from the AirVenture grounds. The AirVenture app was downloaded and used by nearly 47,000 attendees. EAA Radio reached more than 104,000 listeners in 158 countries with 6,735 hours of audio, and more than 47,000 viewers of 405,000 minutes of streaming video.

    Guests registered at International Visitors Tent: A record 2,772 visitors from 93 nations.

    Top countries represented by registered visitors: Canada (561 visitors), Australia (386), and South Africa (177). 

    Media: 851 media representatives on-site, from six continents.

    Economic impact*: $170 million for the five counties in the Oshkosh region

    IN My Humble Guess, Airventure 2021 will tally around 60% from the 2019 statistics with a gain in social media, internet and mobile sourcing.