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U.S. National Aerobatic Championships Come to Oshkosh
By Katie Holliday-Greenley
July 29, 2017 - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017 is winding down, but in less than two months, Wittman Regional Airport will once more host a gathering of aviation enthusiasts for the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships.
The championship has been held in Sherman, Texas, since 1972, but in 2016, the International Aerobatic Club board of directors voted to move the competition to Oshkosh.
“The location that we were at in Texas was getting busier,” said IAC Program Manager Lorrie Penner. “They had a lot more business jets coming in, and they also had a flight school that increased its size exponentially. At one point there were 200 students.”
Several new locations were considered for the event, but the IAC board of directors narrowed it down to Oshkosh; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Newton, Kansas; or Union City, Tennessee, before ultimately deciding to move the competition to Oshkosh.
“I think one of the biggest attractions was the fact that the World Aerobatic Championships had been here in 1980,” Lorrie said. “So it has sentimental value for us as well as just that it’s a really great place.”
As an EAA division, it was easy for the IAC to work with EAA to use the organization’s facilities like hangars A, B, C, and D on the AirVenture grounds.
“One of the things that happens at other locations sometimes is that there’s not enough hangar space,” Lorrie said. “So that’s a big attraction. The Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau also was very welcoming. We had a regional contest here in 2013, so we were familiar with the grounds and the operations from our standpoint. I think there’s probably been some changeover in the tower … but some of them remember us being here before for that smaller competition, so they felt like they could certainly work with us.”
This year’s National Aerobatic Championships will kick off September 23 with opening ceremonies in the Founders’ Wing of the EAA Aviation Museum at 11 a.m. The competition will begin that afternoon after a pilot and volunteer briefing. An opening night reception will be held in the Nature Center Pavilion, giving participants an opportunity to debrief from the day’s activities, learn more about the new location, and socialize with other aerobatic enthusiasts.
Lorrie said the six-day-long competition is expected to draw 90-100 pilots from around the United States. The event concludes on September 29 with closing ceremonies and an awards banquet in the Founders’ Wing with a keynote address by EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack J. Pelton.
Follow the IAC on Facebook and Twitter and check www.IAC.org to keep up with announcements leading up to — and during — the event.