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AirVenture Opening Day: Attendance, Camping, Aircraft Movements Up Significantly

By Ric Reynolds

  • Jack Pelton 2015 AirVenture opening day comments.
    Jack Pelton 2015 AirVenture opening day comments.

July 20, 2015 - “I can’t do this in only 30 minutes! There’s too much fun going on!”

That was how EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton began his annual EAA AirVenture opening day media conference Monday after learning his allotted time was a half-hour.

“Certainly been a great start to the week,” he said, announcing a record number of airplanes already on Wittman Regional Airport. “Right now we’re experiencing a record number of airplanes flying in, about a thousand airplane movements for arrivals over what we’ve seen the last two years. We’ve seen camping that’s been up about 13 percent over the last few years, and gate attendance also up about 7 percent.

“So we’re off to a roaring start.”

Pelton credits in part increased optimism in the aviation industry. “I think we’re seeing more and more people recovering, back flying again, maybe not at the number of flight hours we’ve seen in the past, but certainly people are planning where they’re going to go and what they’re going to do, and AirVenture continues to be on that list.”

Among the significant attractions Pelton noted: the Apollo 13 tribute, as well as traditional EAA elements: innovation, homebuilding, and following the roots of the organization Paul Poberezny founded.

That points to Burt Rutan’s participation this year, he said, and celebrating the 40th anniversary of Rutan’s VariEze.

Another true EAA highlight Pelton noted is the arrival of a homebuilt Spitfire Mk IX.

Media questions largely centered on advocacy issues, and Pelton said there would be discussions with government officials this week regarding the slow pace of positive change on third-class medicals, FAA reauthorization, and other matters.

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