What Is the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh?

The Most Talked-About Fly-In Event

Largest Fly-In And Air Show In US Showcases Wonder Of Flight
Jonathan Daniel/Getty News Images/Getty Images

"Going to Oshkosh this year?" is one of the most asked questions among aviation enthusiasts. Pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics, and all aviation enthusiasts typically have a fond admiration of Oshkosh, also known as EAA AirVenture. It's thought to be the best aviation event in the world. It's big. It's exciting. There's something for everyone. What's not to love?

What is Oshkosh?

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, or just Oshkosh as it's known to the aviation world, is a giant aviation party and fly-in event held each summer.

Aviation enthusiasts and their aircraft come from all over the world to participate in exhibits, forums, airshows, aircraft viewing, concerts, fireworks, kid's activities, museums and more. Seriously -- Oshkosh has everything.

Oshkosh is organized every year by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), an organization founded in 1953 by pilots and aircraft builders. Today, the group has over 160,000 members from across the globe who have joined together for camaraderie, outreach and to keep the aviation spirit alive with good old-fashioned fun.

History of Oshkosh:

EAA AirVenture began the same year that EAA was founded. There was a small gathering of EAA members and visitors at the Milwaukee Air Pageant at Wright Curtiss Field in Wisconsin in 1953. A few airplanes and just over 100 people attended, marking the beginning of a legendary aviation tradition.

The event was popular. It outgrew the space at Wright-Curtiss Field within a few years and moved to Rockford, Illinois, where it grew even further.

Ten years later, the EAA Fly-In Convention had outgrown the Rockford location and was moved to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where there was room to spare. EAA AirVenture has remained at Oshkosh since, and over the years the event has supplied the local community with an economic boost of over $110 million every year.

Oshkosh Today:

EAA AirVenture sees about 500,000 visitors during the week-long event each year. There are almost 1,000 forums, informational sessions, and workshops each year and the days at Oshkosh are filled with scenes from the world's greatest aircraft and aviators, celebrities, aircraft performances and music performances.

Flying to Oshkosh:

It's kind of a big deal to fly into Oshkosh. For pilots and controllers alike, it's somewhat of an initiation into a bigger, better aviation world. The Wittman Regional airport is the busiest airport in the world during the week of the event each year, and pilots and controllers get equally excited for the fly-in. It's all part of the rite of passage and entry into the event of a lifetime -- one with wise peers, the best friendships in the world, and a landscape of knowledge to be obtained. It's definitely a big deal to be able to fly into Oshkosh, and it's also a challenge.

  • Aircraft:
    No matter how one gets to Oshkosh, they are usually awestruck by the sheer number and variety of aircraft on the flightline. From warbirds to homebuilts, light sport aircraft to modern-day manufactured jets, most of the world's aircraft are represented at EAA AirVenture. Visitors can meander through the aircraft static displays, take tours of aircraft, or go on an airplane ride. "Warbirds Alley" offers a look at World War II aircraft, and the Vintage Area has every historic biplanes to ogle. There is also a seaplane base, a homebuilt area and a "Phillips 66 Plaza," which features noteworthy aircraft from the past and present.
  • Main Events:
    There are a handful of main events at Oshkosh that are orchestrated every year. Usually, a well-known performer will open the show. Of course, the highlight for most attendees is the daily 3-hour long airshow, filled with the best entertainers and performers out there. On the final Saturday of the event, there is a night air show with fireworks.
  • Forums and Workshops:
    There are at least 400 workshops and forums at Oshkosh every year, provided by EAA, the FAA, authors, experts and aviation professionals. Forum topics cover just about every aspect of aviation, including aircraft maintenance, learning to fly, aviation safety seminars, new technology, and many more.

    Workshops are popular among the "do-it-yourself" folks. Not only can one learn from the many other experts at Oshkosh, but aircraft builders and A&P mechanics can actually try their hand at activities like engine assembly, fabrication, and welding on the spot.

  • KidVenture:
    We can't forget about the kids. EAA, after all, is known for investing time in the next generation of pilots, and Oshkosh is no different! At KidVenture, the little (and not-so-little) ones can fly airplanes and simulators, learn how to become and aircraft mechanic, fly radio-controlled aircraft and participate in hands-on activities while learning and having fun.

    Along with KidVenture, the craft centers, pedal planes, museum, playgrounds and off-airport youth activities will keep any family busy all day long.

  • Miscellaneous Fun: Obviously, activities are abundant. But let's not forget about Women Soar campaign, designed to introduce young girls to aviation careers. Or the Gathering of Eagles, inspiring young people to explore aviation. And a few lucky people will win sweepstakes prizes, which in the past have included new airplanes, boats, watches, aircraft gear and pilot supplies. There's a chapel on site, a quilting contest, and an international tent. The list goes on...

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh can be overwhelming, but in the best way possible! There is a lot to see and even more to do. Check out the EAA AirVenture website for more information.