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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.

  

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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh


Volume 9, Number 8 August 3, 2008     

AirVenture exceeds expectations
By Barbara A. Schmitz

EAA President Tom Poberezny said he was asked one question daily in the months prior to the start of AirVenture Oshkosh 2008: Will anyone come to the fly-in convention with high fuel prices and a struggling economy?

While he worried that attendance would be down, Poberezny told the members gathered Saturday morning at Theater in the Woods for the association’s annual meeting that attendance has been outstanding. Part of that is due to the relationships between EAA members built over decades, he said. "Oshkosh is truly aviation’s reunion."

As a result, AirVenture 2008 "far exceeded my expectations," he later told AirVenture Today. "Over the years, there have been signature events such as the Concorde, Salute to Apollo, but never have we had a convention that has been deeper and broader in terms of programs and activities. This year’s event, coupled with the fuel and economic issues, validates the relationship between the EAA members and Oshkosh, between the aviation community and Oshkosh, and between government and Oshkosh.

"All members of EAA should be proud of the results, but more importantly, the impact their event has on the entire aviation community."

Poberezny said the number of homebuilts, warbirds and vintage planes were all up, and the North 40 was full. More than 23,000 youth went through KidVenture, learning about the excitement of flight through hands-on activities, flight simulators, top-notch speakers and more.

The largest crowd ever – estimated at 10,000 – came to Theater in the Woods on Wednesday to see comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, courtesy of RotorWay International. That same night, another 6,000 were at the Ford Fly-in Theater to hear Harrison Ford introduce Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Aviation enthusiasts from 75 countries, up 50 percent from 2007, came to Oshkosh, to experience more than 1,200 activities. And nearly 800 exhibitors showed off their latest products, while countless companies announced new products that show Oshkosh is the home of innovation in aviation.

It means AirVenture is an affordable family attraction, Poberezny said. "Twenty-four hours of activities for $23 a day is unparalleled value," he said. But EAA is only able to keep that cost affordable thanks to the 6,000 volunteers who help out on the grounds and the partners who sponsor a variety of services and programs, he said.

Although the 2008 isn’t over yet, planning has already begun on next year’s event. Several themes will be present in 2009 including mission aviation and a Concorde reunion. Plus Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites and Sir Richard Branson and Will Whitehorn of Virgin Galactic said they would bring White Knight Two, the newly introduced launch vehicle for SpaceShipTwo to next year’s fly-in.

On a year-round basis, Poberezny said their major focus will stay on chapters, which he called "the lifeblood of EAA," as well as proactive advocacy and outreach to get more people flying or involved in aviation.

In addition, "Oshkosh 365" will be a major initiative to involve people in EAA through social networking, he said.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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