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Aviation Gateway Park Expands

By Barbara A. Schmitz

July 24, 2016 - Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “gateway” as a passage into or out of a place. Visitors to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016’s Aviation Gateway Park will find it is just that—a passage into the latest and greatest in innovative aerospace science and education.

While the Aviation Gateway Park was added to AirVenture’s offerings in 2015, this year’s revamped park is bigger and better than before. Dave Chaimson, EAA’s vice president of marketing and business development, said many of the changes were made because of members’ curiosity and interest in unmanned flight.

“Our membership is very curious about what goes on in pilot-less flight, how airspace is managed, how they can get started, and what kind of pathways are provided,” he said. “But we’ve also expanded the footprint of the area because we had so many requests for new vendors.”

Presented by Piper Aircraft and located on James Ray Boulevard northwest of the FAA tower, the park includes four tents and a plaza where visitors can get hands-on experience with everything from drones to flight simulators. But just as importantly, visitors can learn from aviation speakers, talk to college representatives, and even apply for new careers.

The four centers include:

  • Innovation Center — Find out about 3-D printers, or how the Orion team is working to build its spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket, or how the 2016 EAA Founder’s Innovation Prize is helping solve the problem of fatal loss-of-control accidents in amateur-built aircraft. And next door is the new NASA Pavilion, which includes exhibits on NASA’s latest work to transform aviation, as well as exhibits on the International Space Station, the journey to Mars, and solar system exploration.
  • Forums — The forums area includes daily sessions by aviation experts on varying topics. Of special interest, Chaimson said, may be a noon forum on Wednesday, “Drones: Sharing the Airspace,” when leaders from the FAA, NASA, Google, and EAA will discuss how the groups are working together to ensure an efficient and shared use of the national airspace system.
  • Education and Career Center — This is the place for high school students and those interested in aviation careers. A Collegiate Tailgate, including classic cookout food and games, will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday (today) for those of college age. Recent graduates and job seekers can find employment opportunities during the Job Fair, which expands from a one-day to all-week event, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 25-31. Job Fair activities take place in Aviation Gateway Park and throughout the grounds. Go to EAA.org/jobfair to see participating companies and locations. High school students and their parents can meet with colleges, military branches, and other organizations to learn about aviation-focused career programs during the fifth annual College Social from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday.
  • Drone Center and Drone Cage — The Drone Center is the place for the latest in unmanned aerial vehicle technology. You’ll find DJI, best known for its Phantom UAVs and accessories, and XCraft, which raised $1.5 million from ABC’s Shark Tank, for its next-generation camera drones. You’ll also find the popular and improved Drone Cage, Chaimson said, where you can watch daily demonstrations. Or better yet, test your skills in the obstacle course or speed course contests daily from 3 to 5 p.m.
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