Hightower looks to take EAA to next level

New plans on horizon for EAA publications, AirVenture

September 24, 2011

Sport Aviation and EAA AirVenture, commonly known as Oshkosh, will be getting makeovers to help move the Experimental Aircraft Association to the next level. EAA President Rod Hightower said that the association's most popular features—the magazine and annual fly-in—must be excellent in order to reach that goal.

Former Flying Editor in Chief Mac McClellan, the new EAA director of publications, and Adam Smith, who previously oversaw the association's publications and is now vice president of AirVenture features and attractions, will be leading the transformations.

Smith, an Englishman who was living in Scotland, had heard pilots talk about Oshkosh, but he didn't know about EAA. He moved to Oshkosh because of the airshow, he said, and has helped with the show for the past five to six years, planning recent features like the fly-in movie and evening concerts.

“We've got to recognize what a precious thing we have,” he said, explaining that he wants to be a good steward of the show. While he wouldn't divulge all of the plans he has for the 2012 event, he hinted that the association is examining the daytime airshow acts and will apply lessons learned from the night airshow that has taken off.

One of the features Smith said he hopes to pull off is a space shuttle arrival. “I don't want to promise that it will happen,” he stressed. The retired shuttles are being delivered to their final resting places at museums across the country, and Smith said he hopes to get one to make a detour during its travels.

In addition, the show will feature the Piper J-3 Cub, celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary, a Tuskegee Airmen reunion, and Richard VanGrunsven flying in the first RV-1 which will later be donated to EAA's museum.

McClellan, who said he is “very excited about this opportunity,” will apply his experience at Flying to Sport Aviation by expanding the magazine's content to match the diversity of aircraft at EAA AirVenture. McClellan explained that many EAA members who fly homebuilts and warbirds also fly or own standard aircraft, including light jets and turboprops. Even though each issue will model the diversity of AirVenture, Experimental aircraft will continue to be featured.