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EAA “In a Good Place” — Pelton

Infrastructure improvements, chapter support initiatives highlighted at annual membership meeting

By James Wynbrandt

July 26, 2017 - Membership rolls and museum attendance is up, important improvements here on the fly-in’s grounds have been completed, new national initiatives are underway, and “our financial situation is very stable and in a good place,” EAA CEO and Chairman Jack J. Pelton told the crowd Wednesday during the EAA Annual Membership Meeting at Theater in the Woods.

Among the initiatives Pelton highlighted is an effort to bring together all general aviation groups, including the Experimental Soaring Association, the Seaplane Pilots Association, and other smaller organizations in “an effort to bring everybody into one tent,” he said. “The real intent is to be able to cross-market and cross-promote all the associations, and their specific communities, as we do with Warbirds, Vintage, and IAC.”

Here in Oshkosh, EAA has “invested a lot of capital into the grounds” over the past year, Pelton said. Improvements include the permanent Quonset hut facility in the Warbirds area and the imminent completion of the second construction phase of a new pavilion area in Homebuilt camping, which will have a concrete pad, picnic tables, and charging stations. Meanwhile, expansion of the VAA Red Barn facility has been completed. The Theater in the Woods has new seating, and the entire back of the facility, and its electrical system, have been modernized “to make this a more refreshed facility,” Pelton said.

This year at the Four Corners, “your membership home,” EAA is showcasing its new Mobile Marketing Unit, “a self-contained trailer we’re taking to aviation events across the United States and other events” to expose youngsters to aviation, Pelton said. The mobile unit contains a simulator, a small sheet metal work area, and presents a virtual reality tour of AirVenture and the EAA Aviation Museum. “We’ve had great successes to bring people in and learn what EAA is all about,” Pelton said.

The Pilot Proficiency Center at the Four Corners has also been expanded. “We have doubled-down on committing to aviation safety to ensure our freedoms are not taken away,” which could happen “if the FAA sees [safety] trends are not favorable,” Pelton added.

On the EAA chapter front, Pelton highlighted continuing efforts to enhance support. For example, working with the FAA on developing a defined process for flying off Phase 1 requirements for homebuilts aircraft. “We got the thumbs-up from the FAA on this, this week, and it will be completed by year end,” he said.

Additionally, museum attendance continues to grow “quite a bit,” the Air Academy has graduated its first class, adding four pilots to the light sport ranks, and this year EAA will award Academy scholarships to the four Young Eagles.

Pelton also paid tribute to the volunteers. “Without them, we cannot have AirVenture,” he said. He also thanked the membership for their support. “You believe in us, you stick with us,” he said, pledging to continue “providing you the support and resources to enjoy the freedom of recreational flying.”

EAA Treasurer Stuart Auerbach reported total income for fiscal 2017 was $47.9 million, which is “an increase of $11 million, or 30 percent over the previous year,” he said. The elected Class 1 directors (all incumbents) were also announced: Richard Beattie, Richard Beebe, Mike Goulian, Keith Kocourek, Dan Majka, David Pasahow, and Charlie Precourt.

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