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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedPoberezny says it: 'One of the best ever'
By Ric Reynolds, EAA AirVenture Today
  

Photo by Chris Hibben
Tom Poberezny speaks with reporters Sunday about one of the best AirVenture Oshkosh events ever.

August 2, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - "You think it was a good event?"

EAA Chairman and President Tom Poberezny turned the tables on reporters Sunday to open his wrap-up press conference as AirVenture was winding down to its final afternoon.

"You like to come out of each event saying it was the best ever," he said. "But if you keep saying that every year people won't believe you because you can't always have the 'best ever' over all the years.

"But I'm going to say it: It was one of the best ever."

The down economy, especially in the aviation industry, lowered expectations for 2009, Poberezny said. "My expectations were high, but I have to say this year far exceeded my expectations."

Some preliminary figures released included 2,652 showplanes - the most since 2005; 750 (est.) exhibitors, up at least 30 from the previous year; and more than 2,000 International visitors from 75 countries, knowing full well that many here from abroad do not register; and more than 10,000 people toured the Airbus A380 during its Tuesday-Friday appearance.

Why was the turnout so strong across the board? "I undershot - we all undershot a bit," Poberezny admitted. "When times are tough, people have to make choices. Those with a passion for aviation said Oshkosh needed to be on my calendar."

Poberezny also credited the long-term relationship Oshkosh has with its members, the aviation community, and enthusiasts. "That allowed people to make that choice to come here because they didn't want to miss it."

Finally, it was the programs: "I've been chairman of Oshkosh since the mid-1970s and I have to say we've never had a better set of programs than this year. The depth and the breadth of the planes, the people, the participants, was outstanding."

He revealed that an estimated 15,000 people showed up to see comedian Jeff Dunham on Saturday night at Theater in the Woods. That's an all-time record for the venue.

Other featured highlights of the week cited were Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles, flight crew of the Miracle on the Hudson; Jessica Cox, the woman who learned to fly even though she was born without arms; participation by the broad spectrum of the aviation community.

Poberezny said among the most special moments of the week came on Tuesday when the Airbus A380 arrived. "It lasted about two minutes," he explained. "Coming down the steps of the A380, I met a gentleman from France who was the managing director of the Paris Air Show. To me that spoke volumes - that the Paris Air Show thought enough of this event to send their managing director here to 'see what was going on.'"

Poberezny said the aviation community needs to do more to grow the pilot population. "We're looking for the enthusiast who has the dream of being involved but doesn't have the know-how to do it. We need to lead them on the path to become engaged, and that's the role EAA is going to play."

Regarding the site enhancements, Poberezny said that the reaction from exhibitors and members has been extremely positive.

"This week demonstrated that the passion for flight is as strong as it ever has been.'

EAA spent almost $3.8 million on improving the site this year - the campsite, transportation infrastructure, expansion of exhibit space, amenities for our visitors, trees, and of course, flush toilets.

"Thank God we did, because the site enhancements facilitated the crowds that we had," Poberezny said. "The response has been very positive by all segments of our membership and exhibitors. It's the first of many steps to ensure that the physical site makes this event a leader in aviation. This has truly become general aviation's home and we're going to ensure the site continues to improve."

Looking at 2010, Poberezny revealed that discussions are already underway on some other big airplanes, including "a strong possibly" for SpaceShip2, unique technology, various milestone event including the 75th anniversary of the DC-3, and further enhancements of electric-powered aircraft.

In closing, Poberezny recited the four Ps as the keys to the success at Oshkosh: "The planes bring people here. The people are what give them life. The passion is what motivates us. But without participation none of the above makes any sense."

Final attendance figures will be available Monday afternoon, Poberezny said.

 

 
 

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