EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

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Airventure 2007 Aeroshell.jpg
Aeroshell Aerobatic Team performing at EAA AirVenture 2007

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (formerly The EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In) is an annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts held each summer at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States. The airshow is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), an international organization based in Oshkosh, and is the largest of its kind in the U.S. The show lasts a week, usually beginning on the last Monday in July. During the gathering, the airport's control tower is the busiest in the world .[1]


F-86 Sabre (top), A-10 Thunderbolt II (mid), and P-51D Mustang (bottom) performing at Oshkosh in 2009

EAA was founded in 1953 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as an organization for those builders and restorers of recreational aircraft. Although homebuilding is still a large part of the organization's activities, it has grown to include almost every aspect of recreational aviation and aeronautics. The first EAA fly-in was held in 1953 in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. In 1959, the EAA fly-in moved to Rockford, Illinois. In 1970, when it outgrew its facilities at the Rockford airport, it moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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 call it as The Oshkosh Airshow or just Oshkosh. For many years, access to the flight line was restricted to EAA members; this restriction was lifted in the late 1990s, when visitors to the airshow paid for membership at the event. EAA AirVenture holds nearly 1,000 forums and workshops.


Commercial display at 2011 airshow

It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 aircraft visit Wittman Field each year during the fly-in. The EAA estimated attendance in 2013 at over 500,000, similar to 2012 attendance.[2] In 2006, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported that attendance was estimated at 625,000 by the EAA. However, the estimate is for total attendees each day, so one person attending 7 days would count as 7 attendees. The paper estimated that amounted to between 200,000 and 300,000 individual persons attending the event.[3] The large number of aircraft arrivals and departures during the fly-in week makes the Wittman Field FAA Control Tower the busiest in the world for that week in number of movements.[4] 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 procedures to follow. More than 4,000 volunteers contribute approximately 250,000 hours before, during and after the event.[5]

Air Traffic operation[edit]

FAA Tower team in pink remotely managing departures
Control tower decorated with banner proclaiming "World's Busiest Control Tower"

In 1961, The Rockford EAA airshow had 10,000 aircraft movements.[6] In 1971, the EAA airshow at Oshkosh brought in 600 planes and 31,653 movements.[7] Today AirVenture brings in more than 10,000 airplanes. Special air traffic procedures are used to ensure safe, coordinated operations. For example, in 2014 the Special Flight Procedures NOTAM was 32 pages long.[8]

FAA air traffic staff, including controllers, supervisors, and managers, compete throughout the FAA's 17-state Central Terminal Service Area to work the event. In 2008, 172 air traffic professionals representing 56 facilities volunteered to staff the facilities at Oshkosh (OSH), Fond du Lac (FLD), and Fisk. They wear bright pink shirts to stand out in the crowd.[9][10]

Due to the Budget sequestration in 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it was not able to send resources to support the AirVenture. Rather than cancelling the event, the Experimental Aircraft Association was forced to sign a $447,000 contract to repay the government for FAA resources during the AirVenture.[11] EAA filed a petition in Federal court arguing that the FAA could not withhold services without specific Congressional action. However, in March 2014 EAA signed a settlement agreement agreeing to pay the 2013 costs and a further agreement that guaranteed FAA participation for another nine years. The agreement required the association to reimburse the government for AirVenture specific costs that had been provided at government expense in the years prior to 2013.[12]

Local tower[edit]

The original tower at Wittman Field opened in 1963. In 2007, a new tower was built that is over twice the height of the old building.[13][14] The original tower was demolished in April 2009.[15]

Technical operations[edit]

Several days prior to the event, members of the FAA's Technical Operation team from around the Central Service Area arrive in Oshkosh to set up the temporary communication facilities (mobile communication platforms, FISK VFR Approach Control and Fond du Lac (FLD) tower). These technicians maintain the facilities during the event and tear down and store the equipment after AirVenture ends.[citation needed]


EAA AirVenture relies heavily on volunteers,[16][17] who arrive in the weeks leading up to the air show. The tasks they perform range from parking cars and airplanes, to painting buildings, to helping set up and tear down concerts and shows presented by the EAA. Long-time volunteers receive free meals, tee-shirts, embroidered patches, and free admission into the EAA AirVenture event.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "EAA AirVenture takes flight for the future", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  2. ^ Experimental Aircraft Association (2013-08-05). "EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013 Final Facts and Figures". aviationpros.com. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  3. ^ Zellmer, Doug (2006-08-02). "AirVenture attendance drops". Oshkosh Northwestern. Archived from the original on 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  4. ^ Meg Jones (2004-07-24). "EAA AirVenture takes flight for the future". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. 
  5. ^ "EAA Airventure Facts" (Press release). Experimental Aircraft Association. Archived from the original on 2007-01-17. 
  6. ^ "EAA FLY-IN". Flying Magazine. December 1961. 
  7. ^ Air Trails: 4. Winter 1971. 
  8. ^ "2014 Oshkosh NOTAM". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  9. ^ "The Show Begins at AirVenture Oshkosh". July 28, 2008. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  10. ^ "2014 Oshkosh NOTAM". p. 14. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  11. ^ Namowitz, Dan (June 11, 2013). "EAA agrees to pay FAA to save AirVenture, amid outrage". Retrieved 2014-07-3. 
  12. ^ "EAA, FAA Reach Agreement on AirVenture ATC Costs". Experimental Aircraft Association. Retrieved 2014-07-3. 
  13. ^ "New Air Traffic Control Tower at Oshkosh's Wittman Regional Airport Begins Operating this Summer". FAA news. July 31, 2008. 
  14. ^ Schmitz, Barbara A. (July 27, 2008). "Farewell to ‘The (Original) World’s Busiest Control Tower’". 
  15. ^ "Featured Projects: Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh, Wisconsin". OMNNI Associates. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  16. ^ "Be an EAA AirVenture Volunteer". Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Be an AirVenture Insider: Volunteer". Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Campers, Volunteers All Set up for EAA AirVenture". The Kathryn Report (Blog). July 2, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010. [unreliable source?]

External links[edit]