numbers won't be in for a few days, but nearly all indications point
to a resounding success for EAA AirVenture 2008. That's the message
EAA President Tom Poberezny gave the assembled media at his annual
AirVenture wrap-up session early Sunday afternoon.
"This year's convention exceed
my expectations, considering the high fuel process and a struggling
economy," he said. "But the number of people attending
looks to be on a par with last year, and we had more aircraft,
showplanes, visiting aircraft.
"Yes, it's been a tough year
economically for aviation, but this event is the shot in the arm
aviation needed. Exhibitors report brisk sales, the programs offered
were the deepest and broadest ever, and when asked what day would be
the best to attend, the answer was, 'Every day."
Poberezny said the abundant programs
and evening programs transformed AirVenture into a 24/7 weeklong
"This year, people stayed on the
grounds at night. Crowds at Theater in the Woods ranged from 4,000
to 10,00 people. Every night in the Fly-In Theater there were five
or six thousand people. A total of 1,200 activities throughout the
week. AirVenture 24/7."
When asked about the reported site
improvements EAA has planned, Poberezny mentioned they would
initially focus on grounds improvements including campsite and
outdoor amenities, along with transportation infrastructure.
"The initial expenditures will be about $3.2 million," he
said. After the 2009 convention EAA plans to start work on enhancing
the exhibit areas.
Looking ahead to 2009, Poberezny
hinted at a multi-theme convention, including the arrival and
showing of Virgin Galactic' White Knight Two "and - hopefully -
SpaceShipTwo," he said. Also planned is a Concorde reunion,
inviting flight crews and past passengers of the supersonic
transport whose appearances at Oshkosh helped change how the
aviation world looked at AirVenture; and a special tribute to
mission aviation and the organizations that use flight to carry out
their efforts throughout the world.
Poberezny pondered the re-occurring
question, "Was this the best convention ever?"
For this year, it means a lot. We've
worked harder than ever before to create value, to create a reason
to come. But isn't just what we did this year. It reinforces the
relationships that our members and the aviation community have with
"It wasn't what we did over the
last 3 months, it was what we did over the last 30-40 -50 years that
caused people to come. I can reinforce to you very succinctly that
the reason they came is not the airplanes. The reasons they came is
the relationships, the people, the community."