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AirVenture Site's Future Look Starting to Take Shape

EAA member comments play major role in shaping 10-year plan

Aerial of AirVenture grounds
Aerial of EAA AirVenture grounds.

April 9, 2008 — For the past two years, EAA headquarters officials have been gathering information regarding the future needs of the AirVenture grounds in Oshkosh. Primary input for the project comes from member feedback received during EAA AirVenture - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration - as well as from exhibitors, vendors, sponsors and other participants. This feedback has been gathered through formal surveys and discussions, as well as from comments received throughout the year.

EAA President Tom Poberezny has previously discussed the upcoming AirVenture site re-design and development in EAA's publications and various EAA-member gatherings over the past two years. There have also been hundreds of hours devoted to discussions and planning to reach a practical timeline for this project, which could extend over 10 years total.

"This is very exciting for EAA's future and the future of the AirVenture site for members and other aviation enthusiasts," Poberezny said. "This project will affect every part of the AirVenture grounds. It will create an event site that truly reflects EAA's culture and fosters a community that enables attendees to share the spirit of aviation - while also enhancing safety, quality and convenience. Thousands of EAA members' comments and ideas regarding the event have been a major part of this process."

From the input of members and other key participants, objectives for this site development project were established. These include:

  • Culture - Most importantly, preserve the EAA culture in the event. The site and the event should continue to reflect the core values and attributes of EAA members, who will continue to have priority at the event.

  • Safety - Improve safety for attendees. In particular, establish zones and on thoroughfares that better separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

  • Quality - Improve food-service offerings, camping facilities, restrooms, shade, and relaxation areas - keeping with modern-day expectations of event participants.

  • Convenience - Make the event easier to experience and enjoy by simplifying the arrival/admission process; providing better signage, maps and a more intuitive site layout; and offering a better ground transportation system for movement throughout the site.

  • Fun and Interesting - Expand evening activities and social interaction; expand aviation themes; include additional interesting displays and exhibits.

  • Growth - Address demand for additional exhibit space on all levels and for upgraded amenities to make the commercial presence effective and productive.

An initial master plan for site development spans 7-10 years at a cost of $15-$20 million. The four-phase plan broadly identifies the various buildings, infrastructure and other requirements needed to achieve these site improvement objectives. The project is heavily weighted toward construction of improvements in the near-term, with more than $10 million of expenditures planned before AirVenture 2010. This project will be financed without using membership dues revenue.

Why is this project essential? There has not been a major site-development program on the AirVenture grounds since the current Exhibit Hangars were completed in 1995 and 1997. At the same time, EAA's signature event has achieved an even higher level of visibility and stature in the worldwide aviation community and become a true world-class event. Meanwhile, demands for services at the event by EAA members, exhibitors, visitors and others have been rising rapidly.

More detailed information on the entire project will be available for EAA members at AirVenture 2008, building on the input of members and others. It's anticipated that concept drawings and timelines will be available at EAA Member Village and possibly other areas on the grounds. Regular updates will also be posted on the www.airventure.org website throughout the year.

"I realize everyone is eager to see specifics, but much is still in the developmental stage and continues to evolve, so detailed answers on exactly where each post will go into the ground are premature as of yet," Poberezny said. "We'll be sharing more of that at AirVenture 2008. This project, which is the single largest investment initiative in the organization's history, will allow EAA to maintain the high standards in which our members take great pride and that our guests have come to expect."

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