Despite crossed fingers and high hopes around the country, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) announced this morning that their 2020 AirVenture fly-in and convention in Oshkosh, WI is canceled.
AirVenture, branded “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration”, is just the latest airshow to fall victim to the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. Airshows around the world have canceled in the face of government restrictions on large gatherings and tightened sponsor budgets. There are very few remaining on the schedule for any time until July.
Fans had hoped that AirVenture would survive due to its late July dates. EAA had previously set early May as the decision date to hold the show or not, given the immense logistics that go into preparing for the event. However, the state of Wisconsin is under a “Safer at Home” order until at least May 26th. Even if recovery were to begin immediately, it is doubtful that a large gathering like AirVenture would be allowed.
Sadly, there is no end in sight for show cancellations. While some states have begun lifting their restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, the companies that sponsor shows and local governments that invest in shows are badly hurting. One show in October – Punta Gorda – has already canceled not due to health restrictions but due to a budget shortfall in the local government caused by the virus response. Most shows will continue to hold out as long as possible, but many of them will eventually fall victim to similar circumstances.
EAA AirVenture will return from July 26 to August 1, 2021. We look forward to seeing you all there!
Here is the full statement today from EAA CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton:
My fellow EAA’rs. It is May here in Wisconsin, and unfortunately like many of you across the country, we are still under a stay at home order through May 26. Normally, this is the month when we start our preflight planning for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. By this time, we should have begun ramping up our entire site in preparation for our July convention. Volunteers from across the country and world would have descended on Oshkosh. Together they would have formed work parties, our suppliers would begin start setting up tents and infrastructure. Our EAA staff would be printing wrist bands, campers guides, programs and an assortment of EAA collateral as full-on AirVenture execution begins.
But because of circumstances beyond our control, none of this can happen now. We cannot even get to the hangar so our preflight is left to watching the prog charts. While this certainly makes the ability to prepare for the event a scheduling problem, it does not preclude the bigger issue of predicting what will be the health guidelines in July. Right now, there are three phases that have been defined in Wisconsin as the recommended procedures. As I write this, we are not in Phase 1 yet. Phase 2 restricts gatherings to 50 people. Phase 3 allows for mass gathering with restrictions.
Our convention attracts EAA members not only from the U.S. but around the world. Today we cannot predict when we will be at a point that our event meets the all clear Phase 3 milestone for mass gathering with restrictions. As your leader, I see no clear path to meet our own requirements to insure the health and safety expectations our organization demands for our employees, members, volunteers, exhibitors and attendees. That includes sanitization, separation and personal protection requirements.
My conclusion is, like in any good flight planning, don’t take the risk. Therefore, I have no choice but to cancel AirVenture 2020. Together, we can come back stronger, safer and ready for AirVenture 2021 and create a memorable world class aviation event. Because of our dedicated and enthusiastic EAA members, our Association is strong. We know that at some point this storm will pass. And over the next 12 months we will continue to support all of you as we again, together, grow EAA in the Spirit of Aviation.
Jack J. Pelton