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EAA celebrates 50 years at Oshkosh

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.

To mark the fiftieth consecutive EAA fly-in event in Oshkosh, the iconic Arch is brown on one side, but has been repainted its original blue on the side facing the runway–just as it appeared in 1970. Photo by Kollin Stagnito.

That’s because 2019 marks a major milestone for EAA—its fiftieth consecutive annual fly-in convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In recognition of the grassroots effort that goes into making an event such as this possible year after year, EAA will honor volunteers who have helped at Oshkosh for 50 consecutive years on Friday at the Brown Arch. Fun fact: This year the Arch is brown on one side, but has been repainted its original blue on the side facing the runway—just as it appeared in 1970. Nearby is a 1970 Showplane Reunion—a gathering of 25 aircraft that flew into Oshkosh in 1970. EAA even commissioned a craft beer for its fiftieth anniversary in Oshkosh named, appropriately, Rock Your Wings.

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.

EAA president Jack Pelton speaks at AirVenture 2019.

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.

  • Kristi Lutz, right, lifts her daughter Bridget, 9, to see inside the AOPA RV-10 sweepstakes airplane at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. The Lutz family, from Seville, Ohio, has an RV-6 but brought their camper to Oshkosh for the week. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • Gene Soucy performs in his "Showcat," a modified Grumman Ag Cat biplane, during the opening airshow of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • An American flag flies from this 1944 North American AT-6D, owned by Tim Gillian of Illinois, at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • The AOPA 2001 Sweepstakes Bonanza, a refurbished and updated 1966 V35 Beechcraft Bonanza, taxies past the end of Runway 9 at Wittman Regional Airport during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • What this week truly is the "world's busiest control tower"--at Wittman Regional Airport during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh--is bracketed by flags. The left flag is painted on the tail of a Wisconsin Air National Guard KC-135 refueling tanker. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • The wing of this 1964 Cessna 172E, combined with a sturdy tarp, makes for a great tent shelter at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • Dave Hirschman, left, project manager for the AOPA RV-10 sweepstakes aircraft, talks about the airplane with guests at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • An Air Force Hertiage Flight at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 included, from left, a North American P-51 Mustang, a Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, and a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • The AOPA RV-10 sweepstakes airplane is prominently displayed on the AOPA campus at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • One thousand friends enjoyed perfect weather as they gathered at Hartzell Propeller's seventh annual Hops and Props event at the end of the first day of AirVenture 2019. Photo by Kollin Stagnito.
Alyssa J. Miller

Kollin Stagnito

Vice President of Publications/Editor
Vice President of Publications/Editor Kollin Stagnito is a commercial pilot, advanced and instrument ground instructor and a certificated remote pilot. He owns a 1947 Cessna 140.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Experimental Aircraft Association

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