A July Without EAA AirVenture
We received the news last week — EAA chairman Jack Pelton announced that EAA would not hold its annual AirVenture Oshkosh this year.
In his announcement, Pelton said:
"My fellow EAA’rs. It is May here in Wisconsin, and unfortunately like many of you across the country, we are still under a stay at home order through May 26. Normally, this is the month when we start our preflight planning for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. By this time, we should have begun ramping up our entire site in preparation for our July convention. Volunteers from across the country and world would have descended on Oshkosh. Together they would have formed work parties, our suppliers would begin start setting up tents and infrastructure. Our EAA staff would be printing wrist bands, campers guides, programs and an assortment of EAA collateral as full-on AirVenture execution begins.
But because of circumstances beyond our control, none of this can happen now. We cannot even get to the hangar so our preflight is left to watching the prog charts. While this certainly makes the ability to prepare for the event a scheduling problem, it does not preclude the bigger issue of predicting what will be the health guidelines in July. Right now, there are three phases that have been defined in Wisconsin as the recommended procedures. 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. As your leader, I see no clear path to meet our own requirements to insure the health and safety expectations our organization demands for our employees, members, volunteers, exhibitors and attendees. That includes sanitization, separation and personal protection requirements.
My conclusion is, like in any good flight planning, don’t take the risk. Therefore, I have 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. Because of our dedicated and enthusiastic EAA members, our Association is strong. We know that at some point this storm will pass. And over the next 12 months we will continue to support all of you as we again, together, grow EAA in the Spirit of Aviation."
Although the last week of July won't be the same without the annual gathering of more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts, as Pelton says, "...at some point this storm will pass." EAA's decision is understandable given the vast amount of people from all over the world who travel to AirVenture each year. If you've ever attended EAA AirVenture, you understand that social distincing is just not possible with an event that big!
This year would have marked my 20th trip to AirVenture. I guess my 20th dose of traveling to Oshkosh and soaking in all things aviation will just have to wait.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!