Near-perfect weather and a robust economy helped annual airshow set new attendance record.
From ideal weather to record-setting attendance, AirVenture 2018 was as close to perfect as it could be. The annual Oshkosh, WI airshow, held July 23 through 29, attracted 601,000 attendees, nearly two percent above of 2017’s record total.
“EAA members and aviation enthusiasts attended in large numbers, even without the presence of a military jet team as we had in 2017. Our efforts to create unique attractions and aviation highlights across the grounds were incredibly successful. Attendance on opening day was the best in our history, as the vast majority of our guests came to Oshkosh early and stayed throughout the week,” said Jack Pelton, EAA Chairman.
More than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) and other airports in east-central Wisconsin. At Wittman alone, there were 19,588 aircraft operations in the 11-day period from July 20-30, which is an average of approximately 134 takeoffs/landings per hour. In addition, there were 2,979 show planes (second straight year over 2,900): 1,160 homebuilt aircraft, 1,094 vintage airplanes, 377 warbirds (7 percent increase), 185 ultralights and light-sport aircraft, 75 seaplanes, 22 rotorcraft, 52 aerobatic aircraft and 14 hot air balloons.
Fans of modern military air power weren’t disappointed as nearly every airframe in the current U.S. Air Force inventory either flew or was on static display throughout AirVenture 2018. Dubbed the “Year of the Tanker,” a number of military refueling aircraft, including a KC-10, KC-135 and HC-130P/N, were featured. Among other aircraft highlights were: B-29 “Doc” fly-bys, B-1 bomber on display, RAF 100th anniversary, tours of Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy, a wide assortment of rare historic military aircraft, and a surprise fly-by of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels while on their way to an airshow in North Dakota. AirVenture attendees also witnessed the Oshkosh debut of the innovative Yak-110, which was built by joining two Yak-55s and hanging a jet engine from the center wing. The Yak-110 performed an aerobatic routine in the afternoon air shows on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The weeklong show was kicked off with a concert by country stars Dustin Lynch and Maddie & Tae on Boeing Plaza. Also, approximately 1,000 women pilots wearing red commemorative t-shirts took part in the annual WomenVenture photo on Boeing Plaza, which highlighted a day of inspiring presentations and networking opportunities.
“A ‘perfect’ event may be unattainable, but AirVenture 2018 came about as close as one could imagine. The combination of outstanding programs, aircraft variety, a robust economy, and good weather combined to complement the efforts of our staff and 5,000 volunteers throughout the grounds. The week was upbeat, exciting, and filled with many ‘Only at Oshkosh’ moments,” added Pelton.
Looking ahead to 2019, AirVenture will celebrate its 50th consecutive year in Oshkosh. EAA is already putting together activities that involve EAA’s hometown and its unique place in aviation history.
“While 2018 is barely in the record books, we’re talking to many groups and individuals with intriguing new ideas for aircraft, innovations, exhibits, and events. We’re already planning for 2019 and looking forward to announcing features and attractions very soon,” Pelton concluded.