EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is an annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts held each summer at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States. The airshow is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), an international organization based in Oshkosh, and is the largest of its kind in the world. The show lasts a week, usually beginning on the last Monday in July. During the gathering, the airport’s control tower is the busiest in the world. More than 500,000 from more than 60 countries attend the EAA AirVenture.
Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh is the home of the world’s largest and most significant annual aviation event. More than 10,000 planes of every size, shape, and description – home-built, antique and aerobatics planes, plus military and general aviation aircraft from all over the world – are on display along the site’s flight line. Visitors can attend any of the more than 500 forums, workshops, and seminars offered throughout the event. They also can inspect the planes close-up and watch daily formation and aerobatic flying exhibitions performed by an international crew of expert aerobatics pilots.
EAA was founded in Hales Corners, Wisconsin in 1953 by Paul Poberezny, who originally started the organization in the basement of his home for builders and restorers of recreational aircraft. Although homebuilding is still a large part of the organization’s activities, it has grown to include almost every aspect of recreational aviation and aeronautics. The first EAA fly-in was held in September 1953 at what is now Timmerman Field as a small part of the Milwaukee Air Pageant, fewer than 150 people registered as visitors the first year and only a handful of airplanes attended the event. In 1959, the EAA fly-in grew too large for the Air Pageant and moved to Rockford, Illinois. In 1970, when it outgrew its facilities at the Rockford airport, it moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
For many years the official name of the event was The EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In. In 1998, the name was changed to AirVenture Oshkosh, but many regular attendees still call it as The Oshkosh Airshow or just Oshkosh. For many years, access to the flight line was restricted to EAA members. In 1997, the fee structure for the show was changed allowing all visitors access to the entire grounds. EAA AirVenture holds nearly 1,000 forums and workshops.
The EAA estimated the attendance in 2014 at over 500,000, with 2,081 visitors registered from 69 nations. There were approximately 10,000 aircraft, 2,000 show planes, and over 900 media representatives on-site from five continents, along with 790 commercial exhibitors.
In the past, attendance at the event is tabulated on daily basis rather than an individual basis. For example, in 2006 the Oshkosh Northwestern reported that attendance was estimated at 625,000 by the EAA. The estimate was for total attendees each day, so one person attending 7 days would count as 7 attendees. The paper estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 individuals attended the event. It is unclear whether this practice still exists at EAA AirVenture.
A large number of aircraft arrivals and departures during the fly-in week makes the Wittman Field FAA Control Tower the busiest in the world for that week in the number of movements. More than 4,000 volunteers contribute approximately 250,000 hours before, during and after the event.
The EAA AirVenture fly-in has a large economic impact to the Oshkosh area as well as the state of Wisconsin. In 1982, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the fly-in had a large economic benefit to the Fox Valley region. At the time EAA estimated the benefit to be around $30 million ($76.1 million in today’s terms) and the Oshkosh Convention and Tourism Bureau estimated it to be lower, at $21 million ($53.3 million today). In 1989, the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce said that Winnebago county had a $47 million benefit from the fly in. Additionally, a 1987 UW-Oshkosh study reported a $65 million ($140 million in today’s dollars) benefit to the entire state of Wisconsin.
In 2008, a UW-Oshkosh Center for Community Partnerships study showed a $110 million economic impact for the Oshkosh area. Of that, $84 million was a direct impact with a $26 million multiplier from secondary spending. Additionally, the fly in provided 1,700 jobs and $39 million in labor income for Winnebago, Outagamie and Fond du Lac counties.
Control tower decorated with a banner proclaiming “World’s Busiest Control Tower”. In 1961, The Rockford EAA airshow had 10,000 aircraft movements. In 1971, the EAA airshow at Oshkosh brought in 600 planes and 31,653 movements. Today AirVenture brings in more than 10,000 airplanes. Special air traffic procedures are used to ensure safe, coordinated operations. For example, in 2014 the Special Flight Procedures NOTAM was 32 pages long.
FAA air traffic staff, including controllers, supervisors, and managers, compete throughout the FAA’s 17-state Central Terminal Service Area to work the event. In 2008, 172 air traffic professionals representing 56 facilities volunteered to staff the facilities at Oshkosh (OSH), Fond du Lac (FLD), and Fisk. They wear bright pink shirts to stand out in the crowd.
“Oshkosh” means only one thing to aviation enthusiasts from around the world – EAA AirVenture, “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration”! This aviation event has it all when it comes to aircraft, including War-birds, Vintage, Homebuilt, and Ultralights. Some you would normally find in a hangar at your local airport, others so unique they are the only one of its kind.
Oshkosh is THE dream destination for aviation enthusiasts. For many, arriving at ‘Oshkosh’ is a rite of passage that can only be satisfied by being one of the more than 10,000 aircraft flying in, landing at what becomes the busiest airport in the world for one week.
Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast or an aviation novice, AirVenture has something for you. No matter what your age, you’ll be entertained, informed, and thrilled by the countless activities available that reflect the spirit of aviation all around.
Enjoy daily air shows that include jaw-dropping aerobatics and pyrotechnics. Rock out at the opening day concert that in the past has included bands like the Beach Boys, the Doobie Brothers, and Chicago. Take in a movie at the Fly-In Theater. Let your kids’ imagination soar at KidVenture. Study the latest aircraft and innovations and discover new ideas and techniques from the nearly 1,000 forums and workshops. See aviation’s top personalities. Or, just talk airplanes with people from around the world. All of this, plus much, much more is included in your daily admission.
Add in the crowd-thrilling, show-stopping Night Air Show on Saturday night, and you have affordable fun for the entire family every day from sun up to well past sundown.
There is a uniqueness to each AirVenture that keeps lifelong attendees coming back for more. You need to experience it to understand. It’s a place where strangers from across the globe meet once and then reunite in Oshkosh year after year.
Schedule for 2018
Date: July 23, 2018 – July 29, 2018
Location: EAA Aviation Center 3000 Poberezny Road Oshkosh, WI 54902
Description: EAA AirVenture 2018 is the world’s largest fly-in gathering and one of the world’s largest aviation events, with a total attendance of 500,000. Each year, you can enjoy daily air shows, nearly 1,000 forums and workshops and 800 exhibitors.
For hotel and lodging available in the Greater Appleton area, please call 920-734-3358.
Remember to mark your calendars and keep your eyes on the sky.