Despite drenching rains just prior to the start of EAA AirVenture 2019 that reduced aircraft arrivals to a trickle, Experimental Aircraft Association CEO Jack Pelton was in a celebratory mood on the opening day of the airshow.
Pelton noted AirVenture preshow tickets sales were up 60 percent over last year’s record numbers. However, a potential damper on attendance came in the form of two inches of rain on Friday and another four inches of rain on Saturday. With the ground completely saturated, airplanes and RVs could not park on the grass. Many airplanes remained at nearby airports waiting to fly in while hundreds of RVs were parked on roads for miles in all directions. EAA has been working nonstop to find suitable places for RVs to park while Camp Scholler dries out. Meanwhile, arrivals have resumed for most aircraft with the exception of those wanting to park in the vintage area—which remains stubbornly wet.
Pelton beamed about the great lineup at AirVenture this week: On Friday astronaut Michael Collins will help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which landed men on the moon; from Tuesday through Thursday the fiftieth anniversary of the certification of the Boeing 747 will be celebrated, with one parked in Boeing Plaza; a reunion of 30 North American P–51 Mustangs will salute P–51 ace Clarence "Bud" Anderson as part of AirVenture's "Push to Victory" theme for World War II anniversaries; and much more.
According to Pelton, AirVenture contributes $170 million of economic benefit to the Oshkosh area.