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Overall Air Show Attendance Exceeding Expectations

Air show crowd
AirVenture’s attendance was up 12 percent over 2008.

September 3, 2009 — As air show attendees were seeing it in the air, organizers this season were feeling it too: Attendance is up. Aircraft enthusiasts have been flooding the gates around the country this year, confounding perceptions that the bad economy would keep people away. According to the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) attendance is up 15 to 20 percent above last year’s levels and 40 to 50 percent above all-time records.

ICAS President John Cudahy says they started to see attendance rebound toward the end of last season and advised their members to prepare for larger crowds in 2009. Cudahy says in a down economy, families are making shrewd entertainment choices and air shows always attract large crowds. About 75 percent of attendees travel less than 50 miles to view an air show. When a family of four can attend an air show for less than the cost of a single ticket to a National Football League game, that kind of calculus “does not escape the American public” Cudahy said.

EAA President Tom Poberezny was bullish about the enthusiasm of those who visited EAA AirVenture 2009, “When times are tough, people make choices. Those with a passion for aviation made their choice this year. Oshkosh was the place they couldn’t miss in 2009.”

“I’m pleased EAA invested nearly $4 million in site improvements over the past 11 months, allowing us to handle this year’s increased attendance,” he added.

Nationally military air shows, which are free, have shown the biggest increase. ICAS says that civilian shows, which normally charge for admission, have also shown increases as well.

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