The structure of a much-anticipated mass arrival of DC-3 aircraft at this year’s AirVenture Oshkosh is in question after an apparent rift developed between the owners group organizing the 40-ship formation and EAA. Last week EAA announced that it will “exclusively organize and coordinate all AirVenture activities for the DC-3 75th anniversary.” The owners group, which says it’s been working for more than a year to organize the gathering independently of EAA under the name The Last Time, has termed the EAA announcement “a hostile takeover” of the event and it calls into question whether a formation flight over Wittman Regional Airport on the opening day of AirVenture will be held. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said EAA is not trying to hijack the event; rather, it’s trying to ensure it goes smoothly and safely.
Knapinski said EAA has been trying to coordinate the AirVenture aspects of the event with The Last Time organizers but EAA officials felt they were unable to effectively communicate the nitty-gritty details, like parking, of the massive undertaking to the individual operators taking part. “We’re now 60 days to opening day,” Knapinski noted, saying there is a lot to consider in staging an event like this. The Last Time organizers claim it’s a naked attempt by EAA to capitalize on their effort. “This is clearly an attempt at ousting the celebration’s original organizers,” the group said. “It was planned, coordinated, and privately funded without any support from EAA. Now they want to claim it to be theirs.” The group is still planning to hold its weekend celebration and gathering at Sterling Rock Falls Airport in Illinois on July 24-25 and a formation flight is still planned, but apparently over that airport. EAA says that regardless of the Illinois event, it’s looking to hear from DC-3 operators planning to attend AirVenture and will help organize a mass arrival of the aircraft if one is planned.