Jack Pelton, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s CEO and chairman, confirmed earlier reporting that this July’s AirVenture is still considered a go, and the next “decision point” isn’t until May. “Today we are still planning on having the event beginning July 20, 2020,” he said in a statement. The company is actively considering keep-on, cancel or delay options, he said, with the chance of postponement only viable through late August.
“Most of you reading this are impacted by state-by-state orders to stay home and follow specific CDC guidelines on social distancing, hygiene, and other precautions to slow the spread of the virus. The circumstances have changed rapidly here as well, with Wisconsin enacting a stay-at-home mandate until April 24. We are supportive of those restrictions, and at EAA we have closed our headquarters, with all staff working from home and adhering to the most stringent standards possible.”
As for the show, he said, “We are also closely following and assessing many of the larger closures of world events. In the case of the Olympics, the world’s athletes have already lost crucial training time because of restrictions imposed in response to the viral outbreak. It also is a completely international event. This meant the organizers were forced to make their ‘go/no go/go later’ decision early on. The same holds true with the Democratic National Convention being held in Milwaukee,” he said. “As we look at AirVenture, with our own similarly complex but also radically different set of circumstances, we have the rare luxury of making our decisions just a little bit later. While AirVenture 2020 planning began in earnest at the end of AirVenture 2019, the real onsite preparation work for our annual convention doesn’t happen until May. We have already identified those tasks that could be deferred until June, while still enabling us to have a safe and successful event in late July. Of course, the ability to delay would be dependent on volunteer support and exhibitor commitment and probably could not be later than late August.”
Obviously, much of the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be played out before AirVenture can move forward, and even should it be run this year, it’s uncertain how many of the international visitors and exhibitors will be able or willing to attend. AOPA has canceled the first two of its regional fly-ins for 2020 while most other large events have been similarly postponed or canceled outright.