They’re Only Slightly Off

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You’d think that an organization as large as the EAA could reliably count something like conventions, so we have been slightly amused over the “Fifty Year” anniversary of the annual convention being in Oshkosh – especially since we know that there have actually been fifty-one such events in this beautiful city. Here’s the story…

Everyone “knows” that the EAA convention started at a small airport near Milwaukee, then moved the Rockford, and eventually settled in to Oshkosh’s Wittman Field in 1969. But what everyone knows is wrong, according to some sleuthing that involved the archived Operating Limitations for a Stits Playboy that eventually became the RV-1. In 1956, the annually-issued Ops Lims allowed an operating area within fifty miles of the aircraft’s Illinois base, plus “one trip to the annual EAA convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.” Upon reading this, we went immediately to EAA headquarters for comment, and they asked if we’d hold on a day while they found a suitably old old-timer to comment.

Sure, enough, the answer came back that indeed, the 1956 convention WAS held at Wittman Field, in conjunction with the Formula 1 racing organization (we’re sure Steve Wittman had something to do with this. Unfortunately, it was recalled that the weather was poor, along with attendance, so the subsequent conventions were moved back to Milwaukee until the new home of Rockford was found.

So if you look carefully at this year’s publicity for the 50th anniversary, you’ll find that the fine print actually states that this is the 50th consecutive year – which is entirely correct. And regardless of the potential for a 2% error, we wish the EAA many more decades of success, wherever they may be!

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

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