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Going Direct: The Week We All Weren’t At Oshkosh And What It Means To Aviation

It’s unusual for a huge community to collectively mourn life interrupted, but with EAA AirVenture 2020 canceled due to Covid-19, that’s precisely what we’re doing.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. Photo by Isabel Goyer

You’ve surely heard the biggest cliche of all when it comes to the cancellation of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year, and if you’re like me, you’re probably used it too, though it fails to adequately represent the feeling.

That commonplace refrain is, of course, that even though we’ll be missing this year’s show, we’ll just have to make next year’s edition the best show yet. Yeah, yeah. I don’t want to hear it. I’m too sad about missing this year’s fly-in. It sucks that it’s not being held, and that is not to say that EAA shouldn’t have canceled it. The huge spikes in the virus that we’ve seen the last few weeks underscore the wisdom of the decision. Had they held the fly-in this year, I wouldn’t have gone.

None of this means that we don’t miss the show. We all do. I’ve been to every show since 1991, and the first many of those I attended with my late father, a pilot and an expert in vintage aviation. It was the best time we had together, maybe ever. We both loved it.

And many of you have similar backstories to your Oshkosh, reasons why it’s so special and important to you. Those stories matter. And missing the show, again, is just a bad thing. Even those who don’t like to show it are mourning. We all are.

The event is a huge one, not just for those of us who love to attend but for so many businesses that depend on AirVenture for sales and PR and product launches, all of which have greater impact at Wittman Field under sunny summer skies (when the weather gods smile upon us) than they do or could possibly have at any other week on the calendar or spot on the globe. The huge positive business impact that OSH has for aviation isn’t written about much, including by me, but it’s very real and important to all of us.

We’ll make it through. That’s one thing I stopped worrying about many weeks ago. Will 2021 be the best OSH yet? I hope so. I do know one thing though. It will be the one where we’re all happiest to be there. I can see those future smiles from here.

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