EAA AirVenture officials held out hope as long as possible of keeping the popular summer airshow on schedule but ended up canceling the event for 2020.
EAA staff members are still under stay-at-home orders in Wisconsin through May 26, preventing them from working with suppliers to begin setting up the show’s infrastructure at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and printing essentials like wristbands, programs, and such. That combined with strict health and safety guidelines have created “circumstances beyond our control,” EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton said. The limitations made preparing for and safely hosting the show, originally scheduled for July 20 to 26, nearly impossible.
“Right now, there are three phases that have been defined in Wisconsin as the recommended procedures” for hosting gatherings, Pelton explained. “As I write this, we are not in Phase 1 yet. Phase 2 restricts gatherings to 50 people. Phase 3 allows for mass gathering with restrictions.
“Our convention attracts EAA members not only from the U.S. but around the world. Today we cannot predict when we will be at a point that our event meets the all clear Phase 3 milestone for mass gathering with restrictions.” AirVenture draws hundreds of thousands of aviation enthusiasts to Oshkosh from more than 90 countries, he said.
Pelton said he had “no choice but to cancel AirVenture 2020. Together, we can come back stronger, safer and ready for AirVenture 2021 and create a memorable world class aviation event.”
As the coronavirus pandemic spread worldwide, aviation events began canceling in early March, including Aero Friedrichshafen in Germany; the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo in Florida; AOPA’s Regional Fly-Ins in San Marcos, Texas, and Casper, Wyoming; the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations World Assembly in Montreal; and many others.
Organizations have been working to provide virtual aviation experiences while many pilots across the country remain grounded by stay-at-home orders. AOPA created a Pilot Lounge playlist on our YouTube channel for pilots to enjoy some hangar flying, in addition to the plethora of safety and educational content on our website. Sun ’n Fun officials launched the Sun ’n Fun Home Edition for pilots and aviation enthusiasts to enjoy photos and videos of airshow performers and exhibitor deals. EAA increased its educational webinars.