The world’s biggest fly-in airshow, Oshkosh AirVenture is scheduled to get under way on July 20, but during a White House press conference about COVID-19 yesterday, President Trump’s reply to one reporter’s question raised serious concerns about the viability of the event.
So we reached out to EAA and spoke with media coordinator Dick Knapinski, EAA Senior Communications Advisor, essentially with one very complex question: What is the organization doing to prepare for the eventualities that the coronavirus pandemic will bring, and all that entails?
During his response to a reporter’s question on how long the (still voluntary) distancing practices would be in place, President Trump said, “They think August, could be July. Could be longer than that.”
We immediately thought about AirVenture, which starts this year as early as we remember, on July 20th. If by then distancing is encouraged or enforced, there is no way the show could go on, with the hundreds of thousands of people it attracts from around the globe, and it would make it very difficult for the organization to gear up for the event, a process that essentially lasts all year and involves hundreds if not thousands of individuals.
In response to Plane & Pilot’s question, Pelton wrote, “Right now, we are planning for a full AirVenture event. There are many uncertainties as this situation unfolds and nobody knows exactly how things will stand in late May, much less four months from now. We continue to be in contact with health authorities on all levels to receive accurate information and make the right decisions as AirVenture planning moves forward.”
There are numerous factors that work against EAA in getting Oshkosh going on time. The virus right now in the United States is just beginning to ramp up. Epidemiologists say that the vast majority of Americans will likely come down with the coronavirus and many of them will get sick. A vaccine, according to the Administration’s experts, won’t be ready for around a year, meaning that social distancing might be in effect for a long time, suggesting that large sporting events and other gatherings, like AirVenture, would surely be put on hold. The National Business Aviation Association has already cancelled its April EBACE show, held annually in Geneva, Switzerland. The Aircraft Electronics show, which had been slated to get under way next week, has been nixed. And, of course, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and other major sports have all postponed their seasons indefinitely.
With the AirVenture start date of July 20 looming much closer than it might seem, there is a very real possibility that EAA will be forced to either cancel or postpone. A postponement, the organization admits, would be challenging, considering the number of people involved and the complex logistics of the event.
Plane & Pilot will update the story as details emerge.
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