|EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower welcomes the media to AirVenture Monday. (photo by Jason Toney)
EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower gave a hearty, "Welcome to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012," to the media Monday afternoon in his annual opening day media briefing.
"Things are really shaping up beautifully this year," he said, noting that the convention grounds were in "the best shape in years. It looks like we're in for a great experience."
All the early indicators look positive, with a 3 percent increase in advanced ticket sales, and aircraft parking filling up in the North 40, as well as Camp Scholler, Hightower said.
He added that member requests have been realized with the addition of a grass runway, the North 40 Cafe and camp store, and new family activities.
"We're improving the family experience across the spectrum," he said, making special note of the teen offerings with three after-hours special events scheduled this week as well as the Ford Fly-In Theater's Disney night with the viewing of the movie The Rocketeer.
The air show has also changed, with expanded variety and different type of acts than have been seen in the past. "You have all of the best of the world's finest air show performers here," Hightower said.
Hightower invited the press to Phillips 66 Plaza on Tuesday morning as EAA kicks off the Eagle Flights program, which is patterned after the successful EAA Young Eagles program, except it offers aircraft flights to adults who have a desire to become aviators.
Retired school superintended Dr. Diane Thornton will be the first recipient of an Eagle Flight.
"She's held a long desire to learn how to fly," he said. When she was very young, her father flew for business but her mother did not allow the kids to fly-but her father would occasionally sneak them aboard, kindling her desire to fly.
Also taking part in the program will be Bill French, who took flying lessons "north of the age of 60," Hightower said.
After introducing his wife, Maura, and their five children, Hightower urged attendees to have a fantastic week.
"We're set up for a fabulous AirVenture, and I want to thank all of you for being a big part of it."