Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hey! Gimme back my blog!

Woah! Looks like things got a little busy in here since I last posted before AirVenture. Time to tidy up the blog after having some visitors.

In all seriousness, a special thanks to Dick Knapinski, EAA director of communications, and the rest of the dedicated EAA staff and volunteers for helping get our messages out to you through this blog and keeping you updated on the grounds' status as we fought through this unprecedented occurrence at AirVenture.

And, more importantly, thanks to all of you for the understanding and patience you displayed in working with us as we turned "Sploshkosh" back to Oshkosh. We all came together for a common goal: turning an unpleasant situation into a rewarding and memorable experience. Judging by the positive interactions I've had with several attendees and exhibitors, I truly believe we all succeeded in doing just that.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be evaluating the areas greatly impacted by the flooding and assess how we can improve the drainage in these areas. The goal will be to alleviate these issues should we experience rainfall like this in future years. Knock on wood, we won't.

It's been fairly dry here over the past week and a half since AirVenture 2010 concluded. I guess it's only fitting that as I write this we're experiencing more torrential rains here today in Oshkosh (surely I can't be the jinx, can I?).

We are still in tear-down and clean-up mode for the next week or so. From there, we will start re-landscaping and doing repair work on the grass and other areas damaged by the flooding (most notably, repairing the sod in the new Scotts Warbirds Alley that didn't have time to root) before we turn our attention to 2011.

Just exactly what upgrades can you expect in 2011? I'll be able to fill you in next month with more details following all of our debriefing meetings, which will lay out the direction we'd like to go next in our on-going site improvements project. Whatever improvements we do make for next year, I hope they are received just as well as this year's upgrades were.

Obviously the one major upgrade that benefited most, if not all, was the new indoor restrooms in the expanded Hangar C. They were simple and fit the basic needs of attendees, allowing you to get in and get back out into the heart of the grounds quickly (or not so quickly for those relishing the air conditioning a little bit longer than others).

Adding to the benefit of the new Hangar C restroom was the tram stop stationed right in front of it. The new trams were a nice addition to ease the need to walk throughout the grounds, especially during those steamy afternoons we had. I was thrilled to see so many people taking advantage of these and catch a bit of a break in the shade.

The newly chip-sealed roads in the exhibits area created smooth walking paths relatively free of dust. Without this done, one can only imagine how mucky those paths would've been due to all the rain. Speaking of paths, the new bike path connecting the North 40 to the Main Gate was well-utilized, not only by bicyclists but also by those choosing to walk.

The new shower building on the North 40 was completed just in time to serve the community up there. Unfortunately, the North 40 was a little roomier this year due to the soggy grounds early in the week keeping potential aircraft campers away. So those of you who were out in the North 40 area likely had little or no wait for the showers. Even some quick-thinking campers from other parts of the grounds took their golf carts up to the North 40 to clean up in the new showers. We hope it can be put to more use next year to serve a North 40 full of tent campers.

One final note: I would be remise if I didn't offer up a big "hats off" to all the staff, volunteers and contractors who worked around the curveball (or several curveballs) thrown by Mother Nature leading up to AirVenture, not only from the downpours just days before but also from the excessive rains we began experiencing weeks prior. That definitely slowed our ability to complete several projects, but everyone involved was dedicated to completing the tasks at hand on time and to the satisfaction level that AirVenture attendees come to expect from Oshkosh.

Tom Poberezny said the flooding made preparations "the most challenging" he has seen in his 35 years as chairman, but also noted that "the positive response and the upbeat spirit from all those who attended" made this a very memorable and enjoyable AirVenture.

I could not agree with him more. And again, a large part of that is due to all of you showing patience, working with us, and, in most cases, adjusting your usual camping routine and set-up as we tackled this challenge head-on. You are truly a main reason why Oshkosh is such a special place.

It cannot be said enough: Thank you!