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AirVenture: Fun in EVERY corner!

By Rod Hightower, EAA President/CEO

Rod Hightower

Although I’ve been to Oshkosh many times before, this year’s experience is going to be a completely new one for me because it’s my first in this leadership role of our organization. As we approach the final exciting days before AirVenture, there has already been a great realization for me: There is more going on at Oshkosh than I ever knew, even for a 20-year member such as me.

There are pockets of vitality and activity throughout the grounds that make this event the one-of-a-kind gathering it has become. The varied activities also make AirVenture as big or as small as an individual wants to make it.

The ultralight and light plane area is a perfect example of that. Between the aircraft, the people, the exhibitors, the forums, and, of course, the flying in the morning and evening, a person could spend the entire AirVenture week at the south end! Most of us will venture to other areas during the week, as we are swept up in all the things going on. For some, however, the ultralight/light plane area is the perfect place to spend our time at aviation’s annual family reunion.

One thing I promise you: A visit or two to that area is on my must-see list for my first year as EAA president. And I’m encouraging other members of EAA’s leadership team to stop in throughout the week to say "Hi" and enjoy the unique atmosphere “down on the farm.”

The ultralight and light plane activities hold a unique place in the aviation world. Some people might call it “fun flying,” or “low-and-slow” flying, or affordable flying. It’s all of those things and more. For the enthusiastic aviators in that area, there’s nothing better. For those of us who stop by to watch the flying at the end of a long day on the Oshkosh flightline, it’s easy to see the fun and camaraderie that exists.

EAA is dedicated to preserving and nurturing this segment of flight. There are issues and challenges that have been met, and others that need continuing work and advocacy. Our organization’s goal is to make sure that we keep this type of flying safe and fun.

At the same time, it’s important that the ultralight and light plane segments are part of GA’s larger whole. Regardless of what we fly, we are drawn to the world of flight for many of the same reasons: freedom, fun, friendship and our own fulfillment. We must stand together to ensure that our unique freedoms remain and we can create the next generation of aviators.

This is perhaps the most exciting time of year for aviation. The world comes to Oshkosh to celebrate flight, and we get to share with each other this unique passion that is part of us.

So let’s go aviate! I’ll see you “down on the farm” at Oshkosh.

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