Wichita aviation enthusiasts and business representatives are headed to Oshkosh, Wis., where they will be part of an international throng participating in the Experimental Aviation Association’s annual AirVenture.
More than 540,000 people from 60 countries are expected to attend the show, which runs from Monday through Sunday, July 29.
About 10,000 airplanes will fly in, making Wittman Regional Airport the busiest airport in the world during the seven days of the show, organizers say.
“It’s the world’s biggest state fair, with airplanes,” said Dave Franson, president of the Wichita Aero Club and an aviation consultant. “If you like airplanes, there’s not anything flying that you won’t be able to see there.”
AirVenture offers daily air shows, hundreds of forums, workshops and demonstrations and displays of warbirds, vintage planes, homebuilt planes, ultralights and others.
Its casual character sets it apart from some other air shows, which take a more business-like approach to things. But business is still on the agenda.
“From a business point of view everybody’s there – all the people you compete with, all the people you get parts from, your suppliers, your vendors, just about everybody goes in some form or fashion, either as an exhibitor or to see what’s going on,” Franson said.
The show attracts most members of the aviation trade media, so companies get wide coverage of their news.
“This is the event in the United States when it comes to single-engine general aviation,” said Sara Monger, a spokeswoman for Cessna Aircraft.
“We take pride in going and showing our commitment to general aviation, not only to the past but going into the future of what we’re bringing to the marketplace.”
Cessna is one of more than 800 exhibitors and will display the SkyCatcher light sport aircraft, the 182 Skylane, 206 Stationair and two Caravan turboprops. It is hosting two news conferences on Monday.
Hawker Beechcraft will display commercial, special mission and defense aircraft and its aftermarket offerings.
It will have a King Air 350i, King Air 250, King Air C90GTx, Baron G58, Bonanza G36 and Bonanza XTRA on display. A King Air 350ER demonstrator aircraft and a T-6C military trainer will also be on display.
Hawker Beechcraft’s T-6C demonstration team will perform a nine-minute aerial demonstration on four days of the show.
The company is also celebrating its 80th anniversary with a celebration Wednesday afternoon.
“Oshkosh is always an excellent venue for us to connect with our customers and the general aviation community,” Keith Nadolski, president of Beechcraft Americas sales, said in a statement. “So there’s no better time to celebrate Hawker Beechcraft’s eight decades of pioneering quality, safety and value in the industry.”
AirVenture will honor veterans, including Tuskegee Airmen and the Doolittle Raiders, in a “Salute to the Greatest Generation in the Air.”
Wichita resident and retired Air Force Maj. George Boyd, 86, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, and his wife will be in attendance.
Boyd, who received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, will make a variety of appearances at the show.
He is being hosted by Ametek MRO, and he’ll appear at the company’s booth during the show. The Wichita chapter of the EAA is also sponsoring his trip.
“We think it’s quite an honor to be selected to go and represent the Tuskegee Airmen and the community of Wichita,” Boyd said. “We’re looking forward to it.”