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EAA – The Spirit of Aviation

The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration is right here in the Fox Valley, going on NOW until July 29th, in Oshkosh!

What is it EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012?

EAA is an international community of more than 160,000 members that nurtures the spirit of flight through 1,000 chapters.  For one week each summer, EAA members and aviation enthusiasts totaling more than 500,000 from more than 60 countries attend EAA AirVenture at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.  During the week long event, over 10,000 aircraft fly in, making Wittman temporarily the busiest airport in the world!

History of EAA AirVenture

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Fly-In Convention, or EAA AirVenture, has been in existence nearly as long as the association itself. The first gathering was in September 1953 as a small part of the Milwaukee, WI Air Pageant. Fewer than 150 people attended.  In 1959, the event moved to Rockford, IL Municipal Airport, where it would stay for the next decade.

Sites were studied for a new home. Aviation legend Steve Wittman, who had been an EAA member since the association’s founding in 1953, suggested the airport in Oshkosh. There was acreage surrounding the airport to handle the annual influx of airplanes, vehicles, and tents. There were two lengthy runways (east/west and north/south) which did not cross, allowing greater traffic movement.  In late 1969, the EAA board approved the move to Oshkosh.

There was only one problem – no convention site or infrastructure existed in Oshkosh. However, EAA’s volunteers were up to the task. Within six months, EAA members would have a home for the fly-in. That volunteerism continues today, as more than 4,000 people donate their time to the annual event.

Today, the local and state economies are provided with more than a $110-million boost during the week-long event!

What to See – For All Ages

AirVenture Museum: Free with your AirVenture admission, museum attractions include a collection of more than 200 historic airplanes, custom built airplanes, six movie theaters, art and photo galleries, flight simulators, and two “hands-on” interactive galleries for kids of all ages.

KidVenture: KidVenture features hands-on, educational, and fun aviation-based demonstrations and presentations. Kids get to build their own gliders and rockets, fly simulators, see aviation legends tell their stories, and much more.

Forums: During the week more than 500 forums are conducted by aviation leaders and NASA researchers, along with FAA personnel, aircraft designers and a host of others.


Federal Pavilion: Take in exhibits, aircraft from the various government agencies, live radar and weather monitoring demonstrations, and interactive displays.

The Main Events

Air Shows:Three-hour afternoon air shows daily, nightly air shows, fireworks and a final air show on Saturday are must sees.

Theater in the Woods: The largest public gathering facility on the grounds and is home to a variety of educational and entertainment acts each evening, including Friday and Saturday night concerts that keep AirVenture rocking after the sun goes down.

Fly-In Theater: The walk-in theater is reminiscent of the famous drive-in theaters of the past, complete with open-air seating and popcorn. Each evening’s show begins at approximately 8:30 p.m. with an introduction by a celebrity presenter, followed by a classic aviation film shown on a five-story-high projection screen.

Music: This weeks musical talents include Little Texas, Boogie Knights, Da Blooze Bros, The Steve Miller Band, and Phil Vassar.

Celebrities can be found around the grounds on a daily basis. Some who have come in the past include Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, John Travolta, and Carrie Underwood.

Cost and Where to Stay

The price for a daily pass is $41 for non-EAA members, and $27 for EAA members.  Weekly passes are also available.  There is a $9 charge for parking.  If staying for multiple days camping is available on-site, and the citizens of the Fox Valley offer short-term housing during the event as well.

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