The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual AirVenture held in Oshkosh, Wis., July 24–30, was truly the “world’s greatest aviation celebration,” and they had a record attendance of 590,000 to prove it. Among those were NAAA representatives who met with hundreds of attendees.
More than 10,000 airplanes attended this year’s event, as well as the B-2 Stealth Bomber and three performances by the Blue Angels, which was a huge draw. AirVenture conducted more than 1,000 forums on aviation topics and 800 companies exhibited, including NAAA, along with partners Air Tractor and Thrush Aircraft. NAAA had three booth spaces and actively recruited pilots or pilots-in-training with a genuine interest in pursuing an ag pilot career. It was a successful venture for NAAA with more than 100 prospective ag pilot contacts made at the event; NAAA will be following up with them to further nurture their interest in the agricultural aviation industry.
NAAA’s booths included an Air Tractor 802 and Thrush Aircraft’s 510G. Thrush also had its simulator available for attendees in the Redbird Simulators booth space. The simulator drew crowds to the NAAA booth after attendees experienced what it was like to fly an ag plane. The industry’s importance and career opportunities were also promoted quite well by Thrush Vice President Eric Rojek on EAA radio 96.5 FM/1210 AM in Oshkosh, Wis.
In addition to recruiting, NAAA also promoted the importance of agricultural aviation to food, fiber and biofuel production, as well as to forestry and public health protection, by distributing its “Flying for Your Food” brochure.
Many NAAA members contributed important manpower to equip and staff the NAAA booth at EAA AirVenture, particularly Air Tractor and Thrush Aircraft staff, as well as AgAir Update’s Graham Lavender, Lane Aviation’s Logan Lane and Transland’s Anthonie York. All NAAA representatives were awed by the attendance and well-roundedness of aviation present at AirVenture, whether it was aircraft from the WWII era, current military aircraft, home-built aircraft, sea planes, ultralights, rotorcraft, acrobatic or vintage aircraft.
Highlights included the first full Blue Angel performance at EAA, a formation flight by the only two flying B-29 Superfortresses in the world, the B-2 Stealth Bomber, a tribute to the Doolittle raiders and several flights celebrating 70 years of the U.S. Air Force. AirVenture is an outstanding attraction for aviation enthusiasts, and it is likely NAAA will have an annual presence at the event to continue to recruit the next, great generation of ag pilots.