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.
the EAA University—more than 1,000 forums, workshops, and
presentations where you can learn about almost anything and
everything to do with aviation.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
group of industry experts met to identify a standard for unleaded
aviation fuel, since leaded fuel will someday soon go the way of the
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
That, too, is part of
the spirit of AirVenture.