Today brings to an end another whirlwind week at Wittman Regional Airport as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh draws to a close for another year. The world learned about innovation, creativity, and new technologies that were unveiled, discussed, and on display right here at the undisputed World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.
"This was simply an outstanding event," said EAA President Tom Poberezny. "Oshkosh is the home of innovation and technology, and that surely was evident this week.
"I’ve never seen an opening day with so many rapid-fire announcements, significant aircraft, and passion for aviation. I’ve been chairman for 30 years, and this one truly ranks among the best."
To revisit the week that was, you actually have to go back a day before opening day, to Sunday, July 22, when Cessna unveiled to the world its new light-sport aircraft (LSA), the Cessna 162 SkyCatcher. That one event resulted what Poberezny described as "the validation of the light-sport aircraft concept."
The weekend’s mass arrivals were led by the Bonanzas to Oshkosh, which celebrated the type’s 60th anniversary and helped Hawker Beechcraft mark 75 years in the business; the Mooney Caravan and others followed, as did arrival of the Goodyear Blimp Spirit of Goodyear.
Leading Monday’s flurry of announcements was Eclipse Aviation’s new ECJ personal jet, followed quickly by another major validation of the LSA market, this coming from Cirrus and its new SRS. Other Monday debuts included Diamond Aircraft’s DA50 Superstar, Epic’s new jet offerings, and an appearance by the Collaborators, Sean Tucker’s new formation aerobatic team.
Capping opening day was the return of The Beach Boys, who played two hours of fun, sun, and surf music for an estimated 15,000-20,000 on AeroShell Square.
Tuesday was greeted by Sonex’s announcement of its new e-Flight initiative, exploring ways to propel airplanes requiring much less fossil fuel. We also learned about EAA’s new Learn to Fly Center, an effort to provide a jump-start for people wanting to become pilots but never thought they could. This year EAA unwrapped its Student Membership, a new, exciting way for youths to become a part of EAA.
EAAers were delighted to meet Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber who dropped treats to children in Germany during the Berlin Air Lift in the late 1940s.
EAA’s second user fee panel discussion included several GA organization leaders led by Tom Poberezny. That session, coupled with Saturday’s appearance by members of the House Aviation Subcommittee, left no doubt that GA and its backers are steadfastly opposed to user fees.
"I’m proud that the stature of EAA AirVenture has lent credibility to the event that leaders feel it necessary to come here to get the pulse from the members and visitors on the issues," Poberezny said.
EAA also received delegations from France, China, South America, and other countries eager to see the latest innovations in general aviation.
Many FAA representatives were also here, meeting with EAA officials and others about such important issues as orphaned aircraft, amateur-built rulemaking, aging aircraft issues, warbirds, and more. Speaking of the FAA, this year marked Administrator Marion Blakey’s final "Meet the Administrator" session. She announced her agency was downsizing the unpopular Washington, D.C., ADIZ, and added she’d like to return to Oshkosh as a volunteer.
Speaking of volunteers, here’s to the estimated 5,000 EAAers who work tirelessly to make this truly the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.
Saturday’s performance by the amazing U.S. Air Force F-22s had everyone staring up. That was just a part of the 60th anniversary celebration of the USAF, which also displayed a C-17, a C-5, several other fighters, and a terrific display on the grounds.
The week had everything AirVenture attendees have come to expect and more. We’ll see you in about 365 days for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, July 28-August 3, 2008.