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EAA AirVenture 2015 'a tremendous week'EAA AirVenture 2015 'a tremendous week'

  • More than 553,000 attendees enjoyed perfect weather as they celebrated the world of aviation at EAA AirVenture 2015 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 20-26. The AOPA campus, located near the Brown Arch, was home to a variety of activities and events. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The Texas Flying Legends Museum displayed its North American B-25J Mitchell bomber named “Betty’s Dream.” It helped escort bombers carrying Japanese peace envoys to Ie Shima in August 1945. Photo by Alton K. Marsh.
  • Airshow performer and AOPA Ambassador Patty Wagstaff signs autographs near airshow fan Nick Cain. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Aviation luminary Burt Rutan makes a surprise appearance with the Seaplane Pilots Association's Steve McCaughey at the organization's annual corn roast. Photo by David Tulis.
  • An AOPA member visits the AOPA campus. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Which movie character does this warbird call to mind? Hint: "I am your father" or "Together we can rule the galaxy, father and son." Photo by Alton K. Marsh.
  • King Air 350 pilot Soiuzbek Saliev, center, and crew member Askat Dukenbaev, left, from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, attend an AOPA Pilots Town Hall meeting. Photo by David Tulis.
  • AOPA President Mark Baker talks with attendees at a coffee and donuts Pilot Town Hall meeting at AOPA's activity tent. Photo by David Tulis.
  • An F-22 military jet flies past the control tower. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Luca Bertossio performs in his Swift S-1 glider aircraft during the night airshow July 25. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Bob Carlson flies his SubSonex JSX-2 jet past the Brown Arch during the afternoon airshow July 25. Photo by David Tulis.
  • About 60 Rusty Pilots including Paulette Dancause-Paulsen attended an AOPA seminar July 25. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A rare PB4Y-2 Privateer, a naval patrol version of a B-24 Liberator bomber with a single tail rather than the usual twin-tail configuration, made an appearance. Photo by Alton K. Marsh.
  • Airshow performer Mike Goulian flies a routine around the newly unveiled Goodyear Blimp (actuallya ZLT Zeppelin).
  • “Panchito”, a North American B-25J bomber, is part of the Delaware Museum Foundation and the Disabled American Veteran Outreach Program. Photo by Alton K. Marsh.

As the last of the airshow performers flew over Wittman Regional Airport, Experimental Aircraft Association Chairman Jack Pelton pronounced the week of all things aviation a huge success during his EAA AirVenture 2015 closing day comments July 26.

An airaft climbs near the ultralight area.“It’s been a tremendous week, an absolutely incredible week with perfect weather,” he said. “It really felt like we were getting back to our culture and back to our community family.”

Among the highlights for the more than 553,000 visitors venturing to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Pelton said the Airbus A350XWB “offered some tremendous hospitality” during its Boeing Plaza stop and “the F-35, the B-52, and the F-100 Super Saber brought me back to my childhood.”

Pelton said that offering something for everyone played a key part in the airshow’s success in 2015, with numbers that closely matched 2005 attendance 10 years ago. “We started out the week breaking records. It clearly tapered off on Friday for the Milwaukee airshow, but if you look at 2015 it was the highest attended show since what we believe was 2005,” he said.

There were more options for families, students, and nonpilots as well, with a nod toward diversity of events, entertainment options, and age representation. He said that even the simple things like clean bathrooms with built-in hand sanitizer dispensers seemed to please attendees. For a younger generation of potential pilots, Pelton said the college park area was a highlight and EAA would continue to build on that relationship.

Pelton said there are challenges, however. Chief among them is the sheer number of things to do and places to go, which could very well bewilder some attendees, he said. “There’s sensory overload every day in some form or fashion,” he said.

AOPA presented a Rusty Pilots seminar attended by about 60 pilots July 25.

Pelton gave a nod of thanks to the FAA air traffic controllers and the way they handled more than 16,000 aircraft movements for the week, which put Wittman Airport right up there with Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, according to some of the controllers Pelton spoke to.

Also earlier in the week, a Piper Malibu crashed while landing, injuring all five on board. Pelton stressed that first responder crews were well-trained in the event of any emergency. “Each accident has its own unique circumstances. We’ll address what we can and look at our safety response and make sure it’s as tight as we can make it,” he said, noting that ground crews quickly brought the scene under control. “We feel that we probably prevented some fatalities.” A news report said that one person was still in critical condition as of July 24. The NTSB, which was on site for the airshow, is still investigating the accident.

When asked about folding the IMC Clubs into EAA’s chapter structure that was announced earlier at AirVenture, Pelton said he was excited about the new possibilities awaiting both groups. “They will be part of the EAA and we are working on the integration,” he said. “We have good capability for expanding and we have a built-in delivery method with over 900 chapters.We’re really excited about it.” Pelton said he hopes to bring the instrument discussions and “what if” scenarios made popular by IMC Clubs to the VFR pilot population, too.

Pelton said camping was up 4.3 percent, and there were more than 800 exhibitors on the grounds in 2015. EAA is already planning next year’s AirVenture with highlights to possibly include Boeing’s 100th anniversary, the Van's homebuilt RV-6 line celebrating its fortieth birthday, and the F-16 Fighting Falcons, as possible draws.

Fireworks explode over the Yingling Ascend 172 Cessna at the AOPA campus.
David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Experimental Aircraft Association, Events

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