Monday, November 24, 2008

Some new looks

There was new snow covering the grounds this morning, which took us a little by surprise. For the maintenance crews, that meant the first practice of the winter drill: Get out the plows and move snow from all the driveways and parking lots.

Before the snow arrived, we received these photos from Bob Lumley, who is a Vintage Aircraft Association board member. These were taken last Saturday (Nov. 22) and give an excellent view on some of what you’ll be seeing next year.

This first photo shows a view generally from west to east. Near the bottom right of the photo, you’ll see the new main gate area near the bottom of the ‘V’, and the new Forest Home Avenue that will bend around it. One other thing in the lower left of the photo: Note how much larger the bus stop circle is compared to past years. That will ease the congestion at prime times, such as after the air show each day. We're also moving the museum shuttle to this location to eliminate the confusion when there are two bus stop areas close to one another.

The second photo is a view from south to north. One thing to point out here is the new exhibit area just north of AeroShell Square. Such well-known facilities as the Chapter House, Young Eagles Building, Lost-And-Found, International Visitors Tent and more will be relocated for 2009. As those locations are finalized, we’ll have more details for you on exact locations.

I promised I’d answer a question or two when I can, so here’s the first one: Is there a larger map that will show the site plan in its entirety? The answer is yes, and we’re working to get one posted as soon as possible. We’re trying to do one better, too, by posting a map that will show what you can generally expect on the grounds just in 2009, while also describing what might be coming in future years.

Finally, I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Late Fall Setting In

The ground construction crews finished work at the end of last week, right on schedule. The electrical work in the new Fly Market location is also wrapping up. Freezing temperatures and cold rain showers are making it tough to work outside, but that’s Wisconsin in November.

The only thing that we didn’t get finished as hoped was some of the grass seeding. That will have to wait until spring. The frost is already starting to take hold in the ground and we’ve seen snow flurries over the past two weeks. I give the crews a lot of credit for hanging in there even as the temps dropped.

As you can see, the main thoroughfares from the new main gate have been covered and now give three distinct pathways to different areas on the grounds. It’s interesting to look down each of these walkways and see the new views. These aren’t the only entryways to the grounds, of course, but this main gate will help create a little more freedom of movement once you enter.

We’ll start erecting the chain-link fence in the main gate area this week. We could have a chance to pour a few of the concrete pads for buildings, too. We may also begin placing some of the buildings that have been up on blocks for the past two months, such as the main gate admission buildings, IAC headquarters, and so forth.

That’s kind of touch-and-go, though, since we may wait for the weather to turn colder so the ground freezes. That would limit the amount of ruts and battered turf we have to fix next spring. When the temps get cold, the hard ground lets heavy machinery move more easily, but the frost in the ground causes other problems. It’s always something, isn’t it?

Also, I've received several questions along with some of the posted comments you'll see here. We'll be answering those in coming posts. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Playing With Trucks and Dirt

I’m a pretty cool guy to my two young sons right now, because they think Dad is playing in the greatest sandbox ever. It is pretty incredible when I look around the site, especially the 200 acres or so that is directly affected by the first part of the AirVenture site plan work. The look changes each day with the heavy machines running around out here, so it’s a very exciting time on the grounds.

Some parts of the project have already been talked about, such as the new pedestrian routes that give someone coming to AirVenture a choice of three paths to unique destinations when they first walk through the main gate.

But today, I want to talk about stormwater drainage. That may sound dull, but the system going in here is state-of-the-art stuff. It’s been used in the eastern U.S. but never in a project of this scale. Last week we finished filling a 230,000-cubic foot underground retention area with clear stone. This is in addition to underground “cells” below the new walkways that will drain rainwater from those areas and into the large retention area. That storm water will then naturally drain into the groundwater system and head toward Lake Winnebago, instead of overwhelming ditches and ponds on the site.

More than 2,000 truckloads of stone were brought onto the site to fill the cells and large retention area. The best part is that when it’s all done, you won’t even notice it. You’ll walk over the cells under the new thoroughfares. The new Fly Market and exhibit spaces southwest of Exhibit Hangar D will stand over the underground retention area. The underground location will eliminate the problems with large above-ground retention ponds, such as algae and bugs.

I’ll be telling you a lot more about the project in the coming weeks. Right now, though, I’m heading back to the big sandbox.