The Whole World is Flying to Oshkosh

‘World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration’ underway

Overhead at EAA AirVenture, the largest fly-in anywhere. Courtesy: EAA

Seven Days, 10,000 aircraft, 500,000 people, eight air shows including one at night, 800 exhibitors, and over 900 registered media are all you need to know that the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (July 23-29) is the world’s largest fly-in and convention. 

This year is the 60th annual gathering of the most diverse collection of aircraft in the world. From the very rare vintage, warbird, and one-of-a-kinds; to thousands of familiar production aircraft to the thousands of homebuilt (amateur-built) aircraft that EAA was first founded to promote.

The Wall of Fire is 1,000 feet long and is the finale to the Warbird Spectacular during the Friday and Saturday air shows. Courtesy: EAA

EAA Video: Night air show

The EAA was founded by Paul H. Poberezny and fellow enthusiasts in a suburban Milwaukee basement in 1953. Today the worldwide organization has 170,000 members and over 900 chapters. The organization’s mission has evolved from promoting homebuilding to promoting the whole of recreational aviation. It also advocates with government agencies that regulate flying activities, helps to preserve vintage and warbird aircraft and flying, and has an extensive youth education program.

EAA AirVenture is more than just an air show; in fact it holds a three-hour air show each day of the convention but its just one event on the daily schedule.

From the opening of the gates each day there are nearly 30 forums and presentations starting every 90 minutes. There are several distinct aircraft parking areas including: homebuilt, ultralight, rotorcraft, warbird, vintage, and production. In addition there is an extensive exhibitor display area featuring over 100 more aircraft, plus four large exhibitor hangars.

EAA Radio: Hear how controllers sequence arriving aircraft

EAA’s six-acre convention site is located on the west side of Wittman Regional Airport and has three landing areas in one: The main paved runways, a smaller ultralight grass runway, and Pioneer Airport located outside EAA’s Headquarters building at the far west edge of the site. The convention site also has an extensive camping area that holds 40,000 to 50,000 drive-in campers, which is in addition to those who fly-in and camp with their aircraft.

Controllers can land three planes at once by directing them to evenly spaced colored dots. Courtesy: EAA

EAA AirVenture is the most democratic aircraft gathering around because anyone with an aircraft and the proper license can land at the field. The FAA provides nearly 60 elite controllers that volunteer to work what is considered the “Superbowl of Air Traffic Control”. Slots to work the show are very competitive.

Flying into the convention is done visually with pre-set routes using one-way communication as the controllers identify each aircraft and tell them to follow the one in front of them. This simple and straight-forward procedure allows Oshkosh to become the busiest airport in the world during AirVenture.

I could go on and on about how great this event really is, especially if you like airplanes. That is what makes AirVenture and EAA great; you don’t have to be a pilot, you just have to enjoy aviation. Only one-third of EAA members are pilots and the event and EAA is tailored to welcome enthusiasts as much as pilots and aircraft builders.

There is no other place in the worlds were you can see such a range of diverse aircraft all in one place. Courtesy: EAA

This will be the first year since 1994 that I have not been intimately involved in the behind-the-scenes effort along with the 5,000 other volunteers and staff needed to produce this event. However during that time myself and others have slowly built up an online infrastructure that delivers multiple online audio and video streams for the “online” AirVenture attendees.  So I invite you to join with me in “attending” Airventure virtually through the following ways:

  • Listen to EAA Radio to hear 24/7 coverage of all the events on the field, as well as interviews and diverse programming. EAA Radio also has a live video feed from their studios. LISTEN

(program note: I will be returning as a guest host on EAA Radio July 27-28 6-8 a.m. Central time)

  • Watch the live tower cameras that show sweeping views of north, central, and south parking and runway approaches. WATCH
  •  Watch the Air Show camera that follows the daily air show live. You especially don’t want to miss the night air show. WATCH
  • Watch Theater In The Woods, EAA’s evening programming. WATCH
  • Listen to the Air Traffic Controllers handle the rush via LISTEN

 Visit EAA’s multimedia site AirVenture LIVE


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