EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

There's a reason it's known as the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration.

Home in Oshkosh

By 1969, it was apparent that the EAA Fly-In Convention had simply become too large for the Rockford facility.

EAA had grown from a home basement operation to an office and museum in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin. The annual convention mirrored that growth, attracting hundreds of showplanes and tens of thousands of visitors.

Sites were studied for a new home. Aviation legend Steve Wittman, who had been an EAA member since the association's founding in 1953, suggested the airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Oshkosh featured acreage surrounding the airport to handle the annual influx of airplanes, vehicles and tents. There were two lengthy runways (east/west and north/south) which did not cross, allowing greater traffic movement. Oshkosh city officials eagerly sought the event and enjoy the economic boost it provided. In late 1969, the EAA board approved the move to Oshkosh.

There was only one problem: no convention site or infrastructure existed in Oshkosh. EAA's volunteer network was up to the task, however.

Within six months, EAA members had created a home for the fly-in. That volunteer spirit continues today, as more than 4,000 people donate their time and talents to help prepare and coordinate the convention's grounds and activities.

Through the 1970s and '80s, the convention exploded into national prominence. Attendance jumped into six figures each year and the event became one of sport aviation's top gatherings.