Growth of ‘Oshkosh’ Means a Full Week is Mandatory

10:18 PM

By Dan Pimentel,

Airplanista Blog Editor
Anyone who has made the trek from throughout the USA and even the world to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh will tell you the same thing: The 2017 version of EAA’s official convention felt like a bigger deal than previous shows. More people, more aircraft, with both GAP and GAC filling up far sooner than in previous years. Oshkosh really lived up to that mega-tagline of “the world’s largest aviation celebration” in all aspects.
Let’s just quickly review some of EAA's official numbers from #OSH17:

Approximately 590,000 (increase of five percent over 2016)

Total aircraft:
More than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin. At Wittman alone, there were 17,223 aircraft operations in the 10-day period from July 21-30, which is an average of approximately 123 takeoffs/landings per hour.

Total showplanes:
2,991 (up 5 percent over 2016): 1,107 homebuilt aircraft (second straight year over 1,100), 1,162 vintage airplanes (up 12 percent), 351 warbirds, 168 ultralights and light-sport aircraft, 79 seaplanes, 54 rotorcraft, 60 aerobatic aircraft, and 10 hot air balloons.

More than 11,600 sites in aircraft and drive-in camping accounted for an estimated 40,000 visitors throughout the week.

Commercial exhibitors:

Forums and Workshops:
A total of 1,050 sessions attended by more than 75,000 people.

Social Media, Internet and Mobile:
More than 15.4 million people were reached by EAA’s social media channels during AirVenture (double the 2016 total); EAA AirVenture app had 1.7 million screen views; EAA video clips during the event were viewed 2.2 million times; and EAA’s 1,900 photo uploads were viewed more than 9.8 million times. Also, EAA web streams were accessed more than 500,000 times by viewers in 192 countries, who watched more than 110,000 hours of activities from the AirVenture grounds.

Guests registered at International Visitors Tent:
A record 2,527 visitors registered from a record-tying 80 nations. (Additional unregistered international visitor counts push the total higher.) Top countries represented by registered visitors: Canada (583 visitors), Australia (346), and South Africa (204).

Media: 906 media representatives on-site, from six continents.

In my totally snarky “Oshkosh By the Numbers” article here on Airplanista, I made such crazy predictions as:

Percentage chance of me snagging a ride
with Sean D. Tucker:

Number of times I will hear the word “Bacon”:
Yes, my “numbers” were thoroughly bogus brain ooze. But AirVenture’s 2017 numbers are huge, and are a very good, reliable gauge to determine the overall health of general aviation in the U.S.

But this show has grown so large, it can no longer be done on the three-day schedule I have always used for my Oshkosh trips. After factoring in an eastbound travel day getting there and the westbound legs to come home, that’s five days away from the office and any other “life” obligations.
This year, while I was busy every second of my 2.5 days there (lost .5 day when United cancelled my KORD-KATW leg on Sunday), I never made it to many parts of the grounds that to me are must see, including Vintage (including the Piper Cubs), Warbirds (except for a quick trip over there to fly Redbird’s full-motion P-51 simulator), and Forums. Forget the Seaplane base or the Museum, not going to happen on a three day visit. And because of my crazy show schedule, I only saw part of one day’s afternoon airshow, but did catch the usual glimpses as I moved from one thing to another.
After arriving home a bit bummed about missing so much of this massive show, I have realized now that all future visits must be the full week. That is my goal beginning in 2018, and that will be my plan each year until I assume room temperature. It will be more expensive and the plate spinning I’ll need to do at my three main gigs to get that much time off would surely make Ed Sullivan cheer.

Partial weeks at AirVenture are no longer an option. Period.

Will I be able to pull this off? Well, anyone that knows me ought to have figured out by my 61st year living on this rock that my annual ‘Oshkosh’ trip is hard-wired into my aviator’s DNA. And you know us pilots…when we aim high to do something, we typically finish the job.

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