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Two For One: Dual AirVenture Air Show Performances Promote Social Distancing
February 11, 2021 – An innovative air show format to promote social distancing will be part of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021, as the afternoon air show will at times feature a split performance area that accommodates two acts flying at the same time.
The split performance areas along Oshkosh's 11,000-foot flightline will be used for aerobatic displays with aircraft that have a smaller performance footprint. It will allow two acts to safely fly their rehearsed routines at the same time — one at the north end of the aerobatic box while another flies simultaneously at the south end.
"This is one way that will allow us to spread the crowd more evenly along the entire flightline instead of having the major density at air show center," said Dennis Dunbar, EAA's director of flight operations. "Think of it as splitting a football field. Normally, everybody wants to sit at the 50-yard line. With this format, the centerpoint becomes the 25-yard line at each end. You can enjoy a great performance right in front of you, regardless of where you sit."
The AirVenture sound system already has the capability to split narration, so each act will have its own announcer and music.
"Imagine, for instance, Vicky Benzing flying her Stearman in the north box with her own announcer while Patty Wagstaff flies her Extra in the south box, also with her own music and announcer," Dunbar said. "We'll manage the schedule so that later in the week those acts will change locations, so if you're camping down in the vintage area or volunteering up in warbirds, you'll still see all the performers throughout the week."
For aircraft that require a larger demonstration area, such as the F-16 Viper Demo Team and the World War II warbirds that fly through the entire air show box, the full flightline will be used for their performances, as in the past.
As the daily afternoon air show lineup is announced each morning during AirVenture, the schedule will include what performers will be flying in the split box format and at which location. In addition to the split-box format, consideration is being given to spread other assets along the crowd line as well.
"One example might be instead of having an Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 Osprey insert special operators at air show center only, we would request more than one Osprey and insert operators at locations along the crowd line," Dunbar said. "These are really common sense measures that do not impact safety while spreading the entertainment value along a much larger area. Some of these innovations could become a permanent part of AirVenture past 2021."
The air show innovations are part of the significant planning for AirVenture 2021 to maintain best practices for possible COVID-related challenges. The initial alterations for the AirVenture grounds were announced last week, with additional information coming as it is confirmed.
"We understand that we have to be innovative as we plan for AirVenture 2021," said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. "Social distancing could very well still be a part of our lives by late July, so we wanted to find a way to encourage that on the flightline while also providing the best possible air show experience for everyone at Oshkosh."
AirVenture 2021 features nine air shows over seven days, including night airshows on July 28 and 31. The daily afternoon air shows are presented by Daher and Pratt & Whitney Canada, while the Wednesday, July 28, night air show is presented by Covington Aircraft.
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