Friday, June 26, 2009

One month to go

As of today, there are 30 days to go until opening day at AirVenture. That’s exciting and scary at the same time. It’s exciting because so much has happened on the site since last year that we’re eager to show off all the new things. It’s scary because there’s always a little voice in the back of your head wondering, “What did I forget?”

It’s felt like AirVenture this week on the grounds, too. Temps in the high 80s and high humidity have been rough on outside workers, but great for growing grass.

Camp Scholler opened today, with several dozen campers at the gate this morning when we began taking camping registrations. Some of them will stake out their campsites and head back home for a few weeks (yes, they do pay the daily fee for the site from the time they claim it), while others are coming in and will spend the next month volunteering on the grounds. Those people do everything from plant flowers to drive tractors, and we’re happy to have each and every one of them here.

We also have work groups from three EAA chapters here this weekend. It’s especially fun to take these people around the site and show them what’s new. I often get some good ideas from the members, since they look at the site from the outside as a visitor.

Last week the EAA staff took tram rides around the site to get an up-close look at the changes. You would think that being a staff member would make it easy to know what is going where as it happens, but each employee is so focused on their own areas that it’s tough to get a regular view of the big picture. Since staffers are EAA members, too, they have many of the same questions that attendees have about the changes.

If you’d like to see a consolidated guide to the site changes, you can download a Quick Reference Guide we put together. Just go to It’s the same reference guide that the EAA staff and volunteer chairmen are receiving.

Pretty soon, we’ll start to see the tents arrive and we’ll discover how everything will fit together. The site takes on a whole new look once the tents start to go up, giving more the appearance that most everybody sees when they’re at Oshkosh.

One month to go. If we pack a million things into each of those 30 days, I think we can make it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Always something new…

It’s amazing at how fast the grass is growing now that the sun is out. Many of the areas that were brown just a few weeks ago are now very green. A few more sunny days will help firm the ground. We may even have to mow a few of the new grass areas before AirVenture starts!

We’ve been working on another big project this week, putting a stormwater drainage system beneath the big, new Honda exhibit. It’s a big one – about 21,000 square feet – and it’s located to the east of its former location north of AeroShell Square. By now, though, we’ve dug so many holes and spread so much stone and soil that we’re actually getting pretty good at it.

I had reporter Jeff Bollier from the Oshkosh Northwestern tag along with me one day this week as well. The newspaper is doing a story about the changes to the site, including the “green” initiatives for stormwater movement that are unusual for this area. It’s an interesting story to tell and I hope people take note of it when they arrive.

It’s really odd to see the grounds without the old control tower in place. Now that the rubble has been hauled away and the grass is growing where the hill used to be, it’s hard to tell that the tower was ever there at all. The parking lot of the old tower still exists, and the FLYING Magazine pavilion will be moving there for 2009, since the EAA Sweepstakes building is now on its former corner lot.

One other addition you’ll notice this year. A very generous EAA support, Craig Willan, has committed to supply 250 all-weather concrete benches on the grounds as we update things. The first 100 benches will be here for this year’s event. That means we’ll get to do some extra weight lifting before July 27, but I think you’ll like the extra rest spots throughout the grounds.

One thing that occurs to me is that I’ve been a part of the EAA scene for more than 20 years now, and I’ve watched the site evolve from basically a summer-season tent city to something much more permanent. What you’ll see this year is just another step forward.

Two weeks from today -- Camp Scholler opens!