Bigger, better, and busier. That best sums up EAA AirVenture 2023 last week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Even before the last aircraft had left the hallowed ground of Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH),
many visitors to the world’s largest general aviation event knew they had been part of something massive and unprecedented.
Dick Knapinski, EAA’s director of communications, validated this by supplying the numbers that marked this year’s fly-in convention.
Number of visitors: 677,000
That’s a record total, up from the previous mark of 650,000 set in 2022.
Total aircraft: More than 10,000 arrived at Wittman and other airports in east-central Wisconsin.
According to EAA, there were 21,883 aircraft operations from July 20 through 30 at KOSH alone.
To break it down further, that’s approximately 148 takeoffs and landings per hour during the airport’s hours of operation.
Showplanes for Viewing
A total of 3,365 aircraft made the scene, including:
- 1,497 vintage aircraft
- 1,067 homebuilt aircraft
- 194 ultralights
- 134 seaplanes and amphibians
- 52 aerobatic aircraft
- 41 rotorcraft
- 380 warbirds
The People Numbers
More than 13,000 campsites, both the drive-in and fly-in variety, were booked, housing an estimated 40,000 visitors.
It is well known that AirVenture could not run without its army of volunteers. This year more than 5,500 helped out, contributing in excess of 250,000 hours.
The display hangars and showgrounds were stuffed with commercial exhibits, 848 in all.
Learning took place with more than 1,400 forums, information sessions, and presentations hosted throughout the week.
For 2023, international visitors returned in a big way, with 2,372 attendees registering at the International Visitors Tent from a record-tying 93 countries outside the U.S.
EAA officials were left impressed by the numbers.
“We had record-setting totals of campers, exhibitors, volunteers, and more,” said EAA CEO and chairman Jack Pelton. “It was also a challenging year at times with weather, logistics, and other factors, which makes me even more proud of the efforts by our volunteers and staff to organize an outstanding event.”
AirVenture is a popular platform for product and aircraft introduction, two aspects that would be lost were it not for the vast media presence on site. This year there were 863 media representatives in attendance, representing six continents.
Those who couldn’t make the actual trek to Oshkosh did so virtually, as social media and internet and mobile traffic registered that more than 18.3 million people tapped into EAA’s social media channels. That’s a whopping 78 percent increase from 2022.
The Gathering Shines
It was a good year for the EAA Aviation Foundation’s Gathering of Eagles, the annual event that raises funds to support aviation education programs. More than 1,000 people attended, raising more than $2 million that will be focused on EAA’s mission of growing participation in aviation.
It is well known that AirVenture is an economic engine for Oshkosh and the surrounding communities. According to a 2017 economic study from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the economic impact was estimated to be $170 million for the five counties in the Oshkosh region: Winnebago, Outagamie, Fond du Lac, Calumet, and Brown.
According to Pelton, planning begins soon for AirVenture 2024.
“We are already looking at a number of big activities, including the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” he said. “Plenty of ideas have also been forwarded to us from EAA members and others that will be part of the planning for 2024.”
The dates for the 2024 EAA AirVenture are July 22 through 28.