"One of the Best Ever"—EAA's Tom Poberezny

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AeroShell SquareEAA Photo by Abbey Haug

EAA Chairman and President Tom Poberezny admitted it strains credibility to keep saying, time after time, that this AirVenture tops them all. "But," he said, "I'm going to say it this year-AirVenture 2009 was the best ever. It's difficult to imagine a week that matched the highlights, enthusiasm and passion for aviation that we saw this year at Oshkosh." With close to $4 million spent to update and renovate the show site, the money and effort paid off. Attendance was up 12% compared with last year, totaling 578,000 this year. More than 10,000 aircraft flew in, either to Wittman Field in Oshkosh or to the overflow airports in Fond du Lac and Appleton, Wisconsin. Of those airplanes, 2,652 were on display as show planes-1,023 homebuilts, 1,007 vintage, 355 warbirds, 116 ultralights, 99 seaplanes, 36 aerobatic airplanes and 16 rotorcraft-including the sole surviving example of a Pitcairn PA-18 Autogiro. There were also 750 exhibitors on the grounds (30 more than 2008), including Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, which sponsored one of the four massive exhibit halls. Jim Irwin, company president, said the showing at this year's AirVenture was a pleasant surprise, with more customers and more products sold than any previous year at Oshkosh. Poberezny summed up, "The planes bring people here. The people are what gives them life. The passion is what motivates us. But without participation, none of the above makes any sense." AirVenture 2010 runs July 26-August 1. Find out more at airventure.org.