Oshkosh Numbers

Aug 20, 2002
EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. - (August 5, 2002) - A celebration of aviation’s past, present and future combined with a golden anniversary commemoration created a spectacular week of people, aircraft and activities during the 50th EAA AirVenture fly-in, held July 23-29 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.
An estimated attendance of 750,000 enjoyed the nearly 10,000 airplanes that attended the event, including more than 2,500 showplanes. In addition, a lineup of well-known pilots and aviation enthusiasts providing an unparalleled opportunity to meet the top names in the world of flight.
“EAA’s 50th anniversary fly-in will be remembered as one of the finest gatherings in our history,” said Tom Poberezny, EAA President and AirVenture Chairman. “The fly-in was extremely safe, and with good weather helping make the entire event one of the smoothest on record. EAA AirVenture 2002 became a homecoming for many EAA members who were making their first visit to the event or returning to Oshkosh once again for their annual reunion.”
EAA AirVenture 2002, billed as a “Red, White, Blue … and Golden Event,” lived up to expectations with activities that highlighted EAA’s half-century of existence as well as the unique freedom of flight. Those activities included individual theme days that spotlighted particular achievements in EAA history or specific aircraft.
Among this year’s highlights were:
EAA Celebrates 50 Years
EAA showcased its heritage with special activities surrounding the “First Fly-In Flight Line,” an area (about 100-by-400 feet) that approximated the size of the first parking area for EAA’s inaugural fly-in in Milwaukee held in 1953. Located just south of the current AeroShell Square showcase ramp, the First Fly-In Flight Line provided a remarkable contrast to today’s AirVenture site that includes some 1,400 acres. Several early EAA members, including EAA founder Paul Poberezny, provided perspectives on the organization’s first half-century. A colorful new book outlined the history and growth of the EAA fly-in through the past 50 years, while a just-introduced CD-ROM set included all contents of EAA’s Sport Aviation magazine since 1953. The first EAA Chapter still active in each of the 50 U.S. states was also honored during the event.
Getting Ready for the Centennial of Flight
EAA AirVenture provided an important preview of the association’s Countdown to Kitty Hawk program, presented by Ford Motor Company. On July 24, more details of EAA’s celebration of the Wright brothers’ 1903 flight were revealed, including the four finalists from whom the two pilots of the 2003 Wright Flyer reproduction will be selected. That aircraft will be flown at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 2003, to commemorate 100 years since the first sustained, controlled, powered flight. In addition, Ken Hyde of The Wright Experience, which is building the airplane reproduction, brought several examples of his research that was included in the Countdown to Kitty Hawk Pavilion along the AirVenture flight line.
The Future of Aviation Unveiled
As always, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh provided the site for introducing remarkable new aircraft and aviation products. Among the new aircraft the flew at Wittman Regional Airport were the CarterCopter, an airplane/rotorcraft hybrid that could ultimately lead to flying vehicles capable of speeds nearing 500 miles per hour, and the XCOR EZ-Rocket, a homebuilt canard airplane powered by a rocket engine, which could helped develop reusable, civilian space vehicles. Other evolving aircraft that reappeared on the ramp included the Eclipse 500 and Adam Aircraft’s A500, among others.
Military Aircraft Wows the Crowds
Airplanes from the military and government agencies were again among the most popular features on AeroShell Square. The Harrier jump jet returned in a big way to Oshkosh, as four of the airplanes roared into the event, marking the aircraft’s first appearance since 1999. In addition, four F-15 “Eagle” fighter jets arrived at AirVenture including one pilot by Oshkosh native Chad Spellman, now a U.S. Air Force Captain. An F-16 and F-4 Phantom II were also parked on the ramp, along with a KC-10 tanker, A-10 “Warthog” airplanes, a C-9 “Nightingale” hospital aircraft and T-38 “Talon” trainer jets. A WC-130 Air Force Reserve aircraft, used to fly into the eye of hurricanes, also appeared for the entire week. EAA AirVenture crowds were also treated to fly-bys by the B-2 Stealth bomber on July 28 and a B-52 bomber on July 25.
AirVenture Homecomings
Along with EAA members returning to Oshkosh, there were many area people who flew airplanes to AirVenture on a return trip home. Along with Capt. Spellman in his F-15, where he was directed to his parking spot by his mother, who was serving as an honorary ground crew member, notable returns included Dr. Tom Mace, a Menasha, Wis., native who led the NASA project team that arrived in NASA’s DC-8 atmospheric research aircraft; and Bob McCormick, an Oshkosh native who was a member of the first group of U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in the 1950s.
The World Comes to Oshkosh
The largest international contingent at EAA AirVenture 2002 arrived in the biggest airplane to land at the event, as an Air Atlanta Icelandic 747 jumbo jet touched down on July 23 and stayed until July 29. It marked the first time a 747 had been parked at AirVenture for multiple days during the event. The aircraft was also open for tours throughout the week.
Other international airplanes that made the journey to Oshkosh included an Australian GA8 Airvan, which traveled 10,000 miles to reach Oshkosh, as well as airplanes from Europe, South America and India. Those international visitors were among nearly 2,000 who registered at the International Visitors Tent, representing 80 nations.
Special Aviation Guests Abound
Special guests from the aviation world and well-known personalities from other walks of life shared their passion for flight during EAA AirVenture. Among the National Aviation Hall of Fame members who returned to Oshkosh in 2002 were Chuck Yeager, the first man to fly faster then the speed of sound (Mach 1); Scott Crossfield, the first man to surpass Mach 2 in flight; Bob Hoover, renowned military, air show and test pilot; Burt Rutan, designer of such legendary airplanes as the Voyager, Proteus and Boomerang; and Burt’s brother Dick Rutan, pilot of Voyager in 1986 and current test pilot for the EZ-Rocket. (EAA Founder Paul Poberezny is also member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.) In addition, Apollo astronauts James Lovell, Frank Borman and Gene Cernan attended various activities during the fly-in.
Among the other personalities who attended EAA AirVenture 2002 and participated in events during the convention were Academy Award-winning actor Cliff Robertson, who received the first City of Oshkosh/EAA “Key to the City” Award; Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh who recreated his grandfather’s trans-Atlantic journey in 2002; Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Jack Roush and Bobby Unser from the auto racing world; and best-selling authors Richard Bach and Rinker Buck.
Museum and KidVenture Add to AirVenture Excitement
An expanded schedule of presentations at the EAA AirVenture Museum added opportunities for AirVenture participants to discover more about the world of flight. A late addition to the schedule at the museum was the capsule suspended below Steve Fossett’s Spirit of Freedom balloon that successfully flew around the world in July 2002. The flight’s project manager, Tim Cole, escorted the capsule to Oshkosh and made several presentations about the often-harrowing flight.
Other AirVenture Museum speakers included aviation historians, renowned pilots, journalists and performers who enthralled and entertained audiences.
The KidVenture area, presented by Nestlé Nesquik, again attracted thousands of young people who were eager to learn about flight. The hands-on activities at KidVenture included building projects, ****pit climbs and control-wire flying demonstrations. The KidVenture area remained open one extra day in 2002 to accommodate the special Kids’ Day activities on July 29.
Aviation Policy Makers Visit World’s Largest Pilot Gathering
As EAA AirVenture has evolved over the past 50 years, the event has become increasingly important to aviation policy makers on all levels of government, making it a “must-attend” event on their calendars. In 2002, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey made her sixth and final appearance at AirVenture as she completes her five-year term at FAA. Garvey urged her successor to continue to annual visits to the event as essential to reaching the general aviation community.
Another top FAA official, Steve Brown, received EAA’s highest award, the Freedom of Flight Award, for his unyielding efforts supporting general aviation airspace and flight issues following the national airspace closure last September. Other FAA officials and representatives were present at various levels of AirVenture, from high-level policy sessions to meeting with pilots at the FAA Aviation Safety Center.
NASA again had a large presence at EAA AirVenture, exhibiting its efforts in both space and aeronautics, as well as research that has benefited other areas and consumer products. The Federal Pavilion brought together representatives of more than a dozen American and Canadian agencies who were available to answer aviation questions throughout the week. Elected representatives from the U.S Congress and state legislatures also attended, along with Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum. Leaders from state aviation agencies were also present in large numbers to meet with pilots and discuss common issues.
EAA Unveils “Timeless Voices” Program
During AirVenture 2002, EAA unveiled its “Timeless Voices” Program, dedicated to preserving an oral aviation history through the recollections of its members and other aviation enthusiasts. The first project, undertaken in association with the Library of Congress, will be collecting oral histories from the diminishing pool of World War II veterans nationwide. Other segments of Timeless Voices will collect the stories from other aviation enthusiasts throughout the country. The collection will then become part of the larger, accessible database that will create the world’s largest collection of oral histories.
EAA AirVenture 2002 Fast Facts
Total estimated attendance: 750,000
Total estimated aircraft flown to event: 10,000
Total showplanes: 2,503, including
750 Homebuilts (including rotorcraft)
105 Antiques
443 Classics
384 Contemporary
26 Custom
10 Replica/Special
223 Ultralights/Light Planes
143 Seaplanes/Amphibians/Float Planes
19 Aerobatic
400 Warbirds
Campers: More than 40,000 people at Camp Scholler, with an additional 5,000-10,000 in Transient Aircraft and Showplane Camping areas.
Volunteers participating: 4,500 contributing more than 250,000 hours of service
International visitors registered: 1,932 from 80 nations
Media attending: 838 from five continents (North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia)