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The Aeroshell Aerobatic team performs at EAA AirVenture

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (formerly The EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In) is America's largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts held each summer at Wittman Regional Airportmarker in Oshkosh, Wisconsinmarker, United Statesmarker.

The event is presented by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), a national/international organization based in Oshkosh. The airshow is seven days long and typically begins on the last Monday in July. The airport's control tower is the busiest control tower in the world during the gathering.


Fly-In Theater with inflatable movie screen at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

EAA was founded in 1953 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as an organization for people who were building or restoring their own recreational aircraft. Homebuilding is still a large partof EAA but the organization has grown over the years to include almost every aspect of recreational aviation and aeronautics.

The first EAA fly-in was held in 1953 in Hales Corners, Wisconsinmarker (near Milwaukeemarker). In 1959, EAA fly-in moved to Rockford, Illinoismarker. When it outgrew its facilities at the Rockford airport, the EAA fly-in moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1970.

For many years the official name of the event was The EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In. In 1998 the name was changed to AirVenture Oshkosh. But many regular attendees still refer to it as The Oshkosh Airshow or just Oshkosh.

For many years, the access to the flight line (the area directly adjacent to the Wittman Fieldmarker runway) was restricted to EAA members only; this restriction was lifted in the late 1990s, when visitors to the airshow paid for membership up front. Some old fencing bordering the flight line still exists on the air show grounds with the turnstiles being removed.

Notable appearances

Super Guppy of NASA
The British Aerospace / McDonnell Douglas Harrier AV-8B, a Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (VTOL/STOVL) military fighter aircraft made appearances in 1986, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008.

Concorde made regular appearances during its scheduled operations, beginning in 1985 and also appearing in 1988, 1990, 1994 and 1998.

During their 1986 North-America tour the Italian display team Frecce Tricolorimarker also stopped to perform in Oshkosh.

The F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighter" appeared at the airshow in 1991, shortly after the Gulf War. The plane was roped off and the cockpit was concealed to hide sensitive equipment in its interior.

Among other unique airplanes that have recently appeared at Oshkosh were the Airbus "Beluga" in 2003, the F-22 Raptor in 2006, 2007, and 2008, the V-22 Osprey in 2008, NASA's Super Guppy in 2000, the B-2 Spirit in 2007, the C-5 Galaxy in 2007, 2008, & 2009, Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter in 2008, Airbus A380 in 2009, and the Erickson Air-Crane in 2009.

In 1994, a unique gathering at the event featured 15 of the 25 then-surviving Apollo astronauts, including the complete crews of Apollo 11 (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) and Apollo 8 (Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders).

In 1997 (celebrating the 50th anniversary of an independent US Air Force), the SR-71 Blackbird made a fly-over. This was supposed to be supersonic but due to a fuel leak, the aircraft made an emergency landing in Milwaukeemarker. The first pass featured a simulated in flight refueling with a KC-135T from 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Basemarker.

Also featured in 1997, 2007, and 2008 was a Lockheed U-2 spy plane.

In 2003 the Wright Flyer was a central figure, and a replica designed to fly on the 100th Anniversary of the first flight was granted its flying certification by the Federal Aviation Administration during the show. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2 were unveiled there, and a physical Wright Flyer mock-up combined with Microsoft's software on a display in front of the pilot (a member of the attending public) was a popular attraction.

In 2005 SpaceShipOne made its only public appearance before being taken over to the Smithsonianmarker. Also flying at the show was GlobalFlyer that had made its record around the world flight in the same year. In 1987 Burt Rutan's Rutan Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without refueling, made its final appearance before its record setting flight.

2008 featured an appearance by the Boeing 747 "Dreamlifter", an aircraft designed to airlift Boeing aircraft parts. Glenn Martin demonstrated a personal jet pack in a test flight on July 29 2008. There were few jet pack manufacturers at the time of the test flight.. 2008 also marked the unveiling of the Icon Aircraft ICON A5.

In 2009, the Airbus A380 visited the event for the first time and it is also the first time the Airbus A380 appeared in a North American airshow. It was open for tours, and performed flight demonstrations during the airshow. Upon arrival, it made a hard landing, causing the wings to flex significantly. It's the largest aircraft that came to the event. WhiteKnightTwo Virgin Mothership "Eve" made its first public appearance by flying four times at the event. Predator B MQ-9_Reaper U.S. Customs and Border Protection unmanned aerial vehicle made its first trip. . 2009 also marked the unveiling of a new jet manufactured by Sonex called the Sub-Sonex JSX-1. Erickson Air-Crane S-64F made its first appearance. Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles talked about their experience of US Airways Flight 1549marker in forums.


Highlights of the airshow include the following:
  • Displays of visiting aircraft of all sizes and types. Most of the aircraft on display at the fly-in are in one of these categories:
  • Commercial exhibits
  • A large flea market (Called the "Fly Market")
  • Large exhibits by NASAmarker and FAA, as well as other federal agencies
  • Showcase fly-by, including the largest formation fly-by of vintage warplanes in the world
  • A daily aerobatics airshow
  • A daily showcase of airplanes
  • Informative lectures by professional and amateur presenters
  • Musical entertainment by such acts as The Beach Boys, Foreigner, and The Doobie Brothers.

Social aspects

For many attendees, an equally important aspect of the fly-in is the opportunity to socialize with other aviation enthusiasts. Lots of people meet up each year with "Oshkosh friends" who they only see at the fly-in. For many years these Oshkosh friends had no contact during the rest of the year, but recently many of them have begun to stay in touch throughout the year via e-mail. Many attendees arrive three to four days before the official start of the event or stay a few days after the end for the opportunity to relax in an aviation environment and to socialize with other aviation enthusiasts from around North America. Also, a very large contingent of volunteer workers arrive as early as a month before the event, and stay long after the end, to help with presenting the event. Among these volunteers are cadets from the Civil Air Patrol, referred to as "Blue Berets," working the flightlines and looking for ELTs. The cadets spend the first seven days before the airshow training for the event and then work the entire week of the show.


Those aviation enthusiasts who drive to Oshkosh for AirVenture are able to camp at EAA’s Camp Scholler. The campground is located right next to the convention grounds, which makes them a very popular lodging choice. Shuttles are provided to take campers from Camp Scholler to the convention ground. Each campsite is 20x30 feet . and people are available for vehicle or tent camping. Shower facilities, convenience stores, and dump stations are also available. The 2010 rate is $22/night, and there is a 3 night minimum charge. While reservations are not necessary, because camping space has never run out, 2010 is the first year EAA is offering advance-purchase camping . At least one camper at each campsite needs to be a member of the EAA.

For those who fly to AirVenture, the North 40 is the general aviation campground where you can pitch a tent and camp under the wing of your aircraft . These campsites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and sometimes do become full. Reservations are not taken. The price for fly-in camping is the same as the Camp Scholler prices.


It is estimated that 10,000–15,000 aircraft visit Wittman Field each year during the fly-in. Attendance is estimated at over 700,000, which is computed by multiplying the number of tickets sold times the number of estimated daily visits by each ticket holder. This technique allows for one person who buys a weeklong pass to count as a separate person each day, which does properly account for each person's actual use of the grounds and facilities, but adds complexity to making a final attendance estimate. The EAA estimates and Oshkosh Northwestern reports the actual number of attendees is most likely between 200,000-300,000 separate people, which would still leave AirVenture as the biggest civilian airshow in the United States.

People arrive by both air and ground transport. Nearby two-way roads are repatterned to resemble a one-way circuit, with traffic either turning off to park in adjacent lots, or keeping on the road to leave (or re-enter the area again.) The large number of aircraft arrivals and departures during the fly-in week officially makes the Wittman Field FAA Control Tower the "busiest in the world" for that week. To accommodate the huge flow of aircraft around the airport and the nearby airspace, a special NOTAM is published each year, choreographing the normal and emergency (if need be) procedures to follow.

In 2002, an Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 brought an almost full load of Icelanders. The occupants of this single airplane represented about one of every 500 Icelanders or 0.2% of the population of Iceland.

Hotels, dormitories, and many private guest rooms in the region are almost always filled to capacity during the fly-in. There is also a Hilton Hotel located directly on the airport grounds. However, the large majority of visitors camp, either under the wing of their airplane, in a recreational vehicle, or next to their car.

More than 4,000 volunteers contribute approximately 250,000 hours before, during and after the event. These volunteers are primarily EAA members, but also include a significant number of local volunteers as well as attendees who can volunteer on the spot. Civil Air Patrol cadets and senior officers who attend National Blue Beret are found on base July 18-31 and work many aspects of the airshow; including, but not limited to: flight line marshalling, war bird security, and Emergency Services. During the airshow, cadets and senior officers contribute more than 2,000 hours marshalling aircraft for runway 9/27. Police Explorers from southern Wisconsin operate traffic control at the airshow's busiest parking lots. Aviation Explorers have a campsite next to the Civil Air Patrol compound. They volunteer in several areas during the week including flightline security, crowd control, custom (homebuilt) aircraft parking, and marshalling aircraft on two of the airport's busiest taxiways during the week, "Papa" and "The Ditch", both of which run parallel to runway 18/36.

Approximately 1,100 portable toilets are supplied for the event, and EAA estimates that more than 2 million sheets of toilet paper are used.

Air Traffic Operation

FAA air traffic controllers say working the EAA AirVenture is the “Super Bowl” of air traffic control. The work is challenging and unique. Each year, the AirVenture brings in more than 8,000 airplanes of all kinds. Special air traffic procedures, not seen or used anywhere else, will be used to ensure safe, coordinated operations. For their work, these controllers will not earn a Super Bowl ring, but instead will wear a coveted fluorescent pink polo shirt – the high-visibility mark (necessary on the runways) of an FAA AirVenture air traffic controller.

Local Tower

The original tower at Wittman Field was designed and built in the 1960s, and was barely bigger than some of the buildings around it at AirVenture. 2007 marked the last year that the old tower was staffed by controllers during AirVenture. The new tower is over twice the height of the old building and can be seen from throughout the AirVenture grounds.

The original tower was demolished in April of 2009.

Competitive selection process

The FAA has staffed a tower at the EAA convention since the 1960s. FAA Air Traffic staffers (including controllers, supervisors and managers) compete from throughout the FAA’s new 17-state Central Terminal Service Area to work this event. In 2007, 145 air traffic professionals representing 45 facilities volunteered to staff the facilities at Oshkosh (OSH), Fond du Lac (FLD) and Fisk. Sixty-four controllers and 11 supervisors were ultimately selected. Controllers normally can only volunteer for a maximum of seven years at the EAA convention, to allow others a chance to work this temporary duty assignment. However, recent staffing shortages at some facilities have caused the FAA to use a few veteran controllers beyond the seven year limit.


The controllers are divided into teams of four persons each:
  • One Veteran controller serves as the team leader. Another Veteran works on the team as well. Each of these controllers will have three or more years of previous EAA AirVenture experience. Fifty percent of the controller workforce falls into this category.
  • At least one member of the team will have one to two years of EAA AirVenture experience. This group is identified as the Limited category and makes up 25 percent of the total controller population.
  • The final member of each team will be new to AirVenture duty and is identified as a Rookie. Controllers in this category total the final 25 percent of the controller workforce.
These teams stay together throughout the convention as they rotate through the control towers at OSH or FLD, FISK VFR Approach Control and the two mobile departure platforms known as MOOCOWs (Mobile Operating and Communications Workstations).

It’s important to note that even a “rookie” will have the years necessary to become certified as a Certified Professional Controller (CPC). All controllers, operations supervisors and the air traffic operations managers are certified for operations at their home facilities.

Future dates

See also


External links

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