EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

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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     

We came, we met, we accomplished
By David Sakrison

There are really four conventions at every EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. There’s the fly-in, with all the excitement of air shows, aircraft on display, commercial exhibits, awards, concerts, movies, camping, Port-O-Lets—the list goes on and on.

There’s the EAA University—more than 1,000 forums, workshops, and presentations where you can learn about almost anything and everything to do with aviation.

There’s EAA’s Stewardship—preserving the history of aviation and celebrating the people who made it happen, building a foundation for the next 50 years of EAA, and reaching out, through Young Eagles and other youth programs, to the next generation of pilots, amateur-builders, innovators, and dreamers.

And finally, there’s what you might call the "shoulder to the wheel" convention—dozens of meetings, work groups, and brainstorming sessions, involving aviation shakers and movers, from the grassroots to the top of the trees. They put their heads together to identify problems and opportunities and to work out the ideas, solutions, and strategies that will keep airplanes flying, amateur builders building, aviators aviating, and all of us dreaming about the joy and wonder of flight.

The aviation community comes to AirVenture because this is where it all happens. This is our annual celebration, our world’s fair. One segment of the aviation community—the FAA—comes here in force and stays all week, because for them it’s a unique opportunity to meet and interact with the grassroots aviation.

Okay, it’s easy for me to get carried away describing it all. But after spending the week covering the shoulder-to-the-wheel convention at AirVenture, it’s hard not to be excited about all the things that actually get accomplished. When folks from EAA, the FAA, the aircraft industry, type clubs, EAA chapters, aviation interest groups (vintage, warbird, aerobatic, amateur-built, light-sport, and all the rest), and grassroots aviation enthusiasts sit down together, listen to one another, and work together. Here’s a sampling of their accomplishments this week at AirVenture:

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee spent a full day at AirVenture listening and talking with manufacturers, EAA members, and other aviation enthusiasts. They were all very excited about their trip here and want to come back for a longer stay.

Several working groups met to work on refining ASTM standards for light-sport aircraft (LSA) to make the standards more user-friendly and to open doors to new innovations, like electric-powered LSA.

FAA officials held an open forum to outline proposed changes in enforcement of the 51 percent rule—the requirement that amateur builders complete "the major portion" of an amateur-built aircraft project. A day later, EAA officials met with the FAA to outline EAA’s position. Both sides did a lot of listening.

Leaders from the Warbirds of America and the National Association of Flight Instructors (both EAA affiliates) met with regulators to resolve issues over operating limitations and airworthiness.

A group of industry experts met to identify a standard for unleaded aviation fuel, since leaded fuel will someday soon go the way of the carrier pigeon.

EAA and FAA officials and key people in the aviation community met to review safety statistics for LSA ("numbers look pretty good") and amateur-built aircraft ("accidents on the rise—needs some attention") and to identify ways of improving safety without adding new regulations.

EAA met with NTSB officials to answer NTSB concerns about LSA safety and standards. NTSB still has some concerns, but FAA leadership is behind light-sport aircraft.

FAA and EAA officials met to review progress on action items from the Winter 2007 Aviation Summit meeting, an annual working conference that brings FAA officials to EAA headquarters to work collaboratively on a wide range of aviation issues.

Nick Sabatini is passionate about general aviation. He is an active pilot and a strong supporter of light-sport aircraft and other grassroots aviation movements. He just happens to be the FAA associate administrator. He also happens to be a very personable and straight-up guy who played a key role in the joint EAA/FAA effort that led to the creation of the light-sport aircraft category.

On Friday, Nick made a comment that bears repeating. He said, "We don’t work together just for the sake of working together. We work together because of the things we can accomplish when we work together."

That, too, is part of the spirit of AirVenture.

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