Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking a deep breath

Nearly two months have passed since AirVenture week. In case you ever thought that the grounds fold up and we all go into hibernation after the event, it’s actually a long way from that.

Almost immediately after AirVenture this year, we welcomed about 25,000 Pathfinders youth campers to the grounds for a week. If you thought it was a jammed scene during the fly-in inside Camp Scholler, it was REALLY crazy during that event (shown below), since people aren’t as familiar with the grounds.

This weekend, nearly 10,000 Boy Scouts will be using the grounds for a centennial camporee, while at the same time, we could have 100 semitrailers or more parking throughout the grounds in support of the Special Olympics “World’s Largest Truck Convoy” fundraiser. It’s just part of how the EAA grounds are used for both rental groups and community outreach efforts during the year. August and September are favorite vacation months around here too, of course, after the months of work gearing up for AirVenture.

What you’re really interested in, though, is “How did it go with the new site changes?” Overwhelmingly, I’d have to say great! The new walkways worked just as we hoped, and people really seemed to enjoy the new benches, the additional shade in some areas and so forth. By the way, the 100 benches throughout the grounds were so well-received that we have a commitment for 150 more of them. That’s good news.

I can say that with the increased attendance this year, it would have been much more difficult for people to move around if we hadn’t made the changes. One never knows how things will work until everybody arrives, but a large majority of people seemed very happy with the new configuration.

As with any new layout, there were a few things that we learned in 2009. Some places need more dumpsters. The new traffic loop created a couple of new bottlenecks to be solved, such as near the Red Barn store in Camp Scholler and near Theater in the Woods. The new flush toilets on the grounds created a demand for – you guessed it – more flush toilets.

We’ve been going through all the feedback and our own observations to make plans for 2010. In some ways, I wanted to get going right away on next year’s plans, because the past month has been about as perfect as one could want for outdoor work. But sometimes, you have to wait for the final decisions to be made. We are working on areas where some of the new grass that was planted needs a boost, with overseeding and aerating those areas.

We’re also studying what gravel roads should be paved for 2010. Traffic, dust problems and drainage are among the considerations when making those decisions. The projects for 2010 might not be as big as what we did for this year’s event, but we’re always hoping to make a step forward. The success of AirVenture this year will help us do that. Thanks again for reading, and we’ll stay in touch!


James said...

Steve, it is great to see you back! Thanks for the wonderful in sight, and I hope the weather cooperates for the projects coming down the pipe!

Jim Hann
(The guy who asked about you on

John said...


Thanks for taking the time to update this blog. I enjoyed walking around Airventure this year knowing about the changes even before I got there!


KevinO said...

Job well done !!!
The women in the North 40 LOVED the flush toilets !! The restriction of vehicle traffic in the center of the grounds should of been done years ago. With the new loop around the grounds for trucks and cars,made it easy to get from one side to the other-- where Camp Scholler ,the loop,and the Fly mart intersect, did have a few traffic jams during the day--but the people running that intersection managed to keep the flow going.
Would still like to see some Ustoreit buildings put on the Airventure grounds.
NOW for the only grip that I heard from several different groups--people were upset that they restricted the gate over by Hilton to Gray hair VIPs.
Overall--one of the best Airventures ( especially since my plane won a award )