EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack J. Pelton began the last press conference of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 the same way he began his first of the week, by thanking the numerous volunteers who make the event possible.
“I really want to note and compliment the teamwork on many levels that made it happen,” Pelton said. “There are more than 5,000 volunteers who dedicated their time to make this possible. We have a lot of these volunteers put in more than 100 hours of work during the 10-day period that they are here.”
With no major jet team — aside from a surprise visit from the Blue Angels on Wednesday — AirVenture still saw 586,568 attendees take in the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration this year.
More than 10,000 airplanes were present on the field, including nearly 3,000 showplanes. As of Sunday morning, the FAA air traffic controllers handled 15,999 operations since July 20, and between the FAA and the air show operations controllers, more than 18,000 total operations are anticipated by the time the last airplane departs Oshkosh.
Despite some unfortunate weather that made arriving tricky early in the week, Oshkosh saw its biggest Monday ever to kick off the show. More rain caused the Wednesday night air show to move to Thursday, which Pelton said was only possible thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers.
“I don’t think there’s many places that could just turn around and just say, ‘We’ll do it the next night,’” Pelton said. “That’s really a testament to everybody that’s involved.”
Local AirVenture attendees are always a huge part of the event’s success, and additionally this year saw more international visitors than ever arrive in Oshkosh. Nearly 1,000 members of the international press were present, along with more than 2,700 international visitors who signed up at the International Visitors Tent from a record 86 different countries.
One of the signature only-in-Oshkosh sights at AirVenture 2018 was the Bally Bomber, a one-third scale replica of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Pelton said he believed the Bally Bomber’s presence could inspire more aviation innovation.
“This is what EAA is about from an innovation standpoint,” Pelton said. “Young people are going to walk by and say, ‘Look at that innovation. I can do that too.’”
Pelton said that all in all he considers EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 to have been a flawless week, thanks to the hard work put in by everyone involved.
“Overall I rate it as a tremendous week — actually a perfect week,” Pelton said. “Due to the excellent planning by my team, who I cannot thank enough, we ensure that we have this stuff well organized before the volunteers get here. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by the best of the best.”
Planning for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 is mere weeks away, and Pelton said there will certainly be a focus on the convention’s 50th year in Oshkosh since it moved from Rockford, Illinois, in 1970.
“That will be a big mark for us, and it’s going to be worth celebrating in a large way,” Pelton said.