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AirVenture goes virtualAirVenture goes virtual

Another major event goes online to bring the aviation community together.

Airshow support personnel watch the afternoon show from their hangar during EAA AirVenture 2019. The 2020 event has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but EAA is launching a virtual AirVenture to bring the community together. Photo by David Tulis.

Once again, a major aviation event has fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic. You all know by now that EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was called off in May. We won’t be greeted by the morning roar of the Ford Trimotor ride hops, the Bell 47s whirring about overhead, or the “it’s way too early for this” yodeling being blasted over the loudspeakers (if pre-caffeine yodeling isn’t your thing, you’re probably grateful for that last part). Thankfully, the Experimental Aircraft Association anticipated such an eventuality and was able to begin a behind-the-scenes engine start and taxi to put together the EAA Spirit of Aviation Week, which will take off on July 21.

On its website, EAA said it intends to make the week of July 21 to 25 a celebration of “the entire aviation community by showcasing the spectrum of flight in a virtual way. ” In a June 4 press release, EAA shared that the virtual event “will include streamed and on-demand content, encompassing nearly every subset of aviation, with a focus on educational, informational, and entertaining content,” along with some special “highlights that include homebuilts, warbirds, vintage, aerobatics, ultralights, and much more.”

“Nothing can replace the Oshkosh experience in-person during AirVenture week, as that event personifies the common passion we have for flight, in all its wonderful ways,” said Jack Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman. “As unfortunate as it was that the cancellation of AirVenture 2020 took away that personal experience, countless people and groups have stepped forward to ask what they could do to virtually create something from Oshkosh that brings us together as aviators and aviation enthusiasts. We’re going to incorporate as many of them as possible during a full five-day event.”

Taking a quick peek at what EAA has developed thus far, we can anticipate nearly a week packed full of interviews and discussions with aviation pros, military performers, NASA pilots and astronauts, and the opportunity to check out some cool EAA member airplanes. There are also forums, historical content, homebuilding workshops and tips, pilot proficiency content, and hangar flying. The Waypoints drop-down menu alludes to even more content, and it’s no wonder the event will last five days: You’ll need all that time just to take in all the great things EAA has in store.

There’s also a virtual exhibit space where you can visit some of your favorite AirVenture exhibitors and vendors. They’ll have everything from product showcases and coupons to multimedia, forums, workshops, and how-to videos. AOPA will also have a presence in the virtual exhibit space—more to come on that as content and ideas are developed. Sadly, you’ll still be on your own for food and commemorative AirVenture Oshkosh 2020 mini windsocks, but you can still grab one here.

EAA is encouraging everyone to share their favorite aviation experiences on social media by using the hashtag #EAAtogether because most of us won’t be able to physically share the camaraderie we’ve come to associate with AirVenture. Which, if we’re being honest, could still be a positive thing if that line for the showers was just a little too long and you opted for the baby wipes instead. You know who you are.

While the virtual event is not fully built out yet (which parallels the real AirVenture timeline), stay patient, check back often for new updates, and block off your calendar for what will certainly remain your favorite week of summer aviation.

Alyssa J. Miller

Erick Webb

AOPA Manager, Aviation Events
Erick began working at AOPA in 2015, shortly after becoming a student pilot. He is a VFR private pilot and manages AOPA’s presence at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo and EAA AirVenture, in addition to his logistical role at the AOPA Regional Fly-Ins and other AOPA events.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Experimental Aircraft Association

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