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.