All photos by Benet J. Wilson
After last year’s lower EAA AirVenture numbers – blamed on bad weather and the ongoing recession -- all indications are north for items including advanced ticket sales and camp site reservations, says Rod Hightower, president of the Experimental Aircraft Association, during a press conference today.
EAA President Rod Hightower
Some of the numbers from EAA AirVenture 2010 included:
- 535,000 attendees;
- More than 10,000 aircraft;
- 777 commercial exhibitors;
- 2,167 international visitors from 66 nations;
- An estimated 36,000 campers; and
- 979 media representatives.
The real way to judge the success of the show is happy faces and smiles, says Chairman Tom Poberezny. The ongoing economic downturn makes people make choices with discretionary spending, and EAA AirVenture continues to be the top choice for attendees,” he says. “We always want to make it the best convention ever.”
This year, EAA AirVenture has the deepest program we’ve ever had, says Poberezny, citing events including the retirement celebration for Burt Rutan and the appearance of the Boeing 787.
Hightower was asked if he felt pressure in overseeing his first air show. “Yes. More than 500,000 people come here every year, so of course, you have to keep things up,” he says. “But we have a great EAA staff and more than 5000 volunteers who make the event happen. They are great pressure relievers.”
Looking ahead, Poberezny noted that EAA is growing. “We have more chapters, and we’ve gained 115 new members a week since January,” he says.
But Hightower admitted that it gets more complicated as EAA develops a new five-year plan. “We’re looking at how we can engage more adults in flying,” he says. “We’re also looking at enhancemets and expansion of EAA Eagles so, in the long term, we can create and grow the next generation of aviators.”