July 26, 2023

Opening day of AirVenture 2023

Jon Robinson

People and planes at Cirrus Aircraft’s appreciation opening dinner, kicking off AirVenture 2023. (Photo: Phil Lightstone)

— Text and photos by Phil Lightstone

Founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes, the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) expanded its mission of growing participation in aviation to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters, and contemporary manufactured aircraft.

The EAA is expecting more than 10,000 aircraft and half a million enthusiasts which makes Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) the busiest airfield in the world during AirVenture. This weeklong event draws visitors from more than 80 countries, many of whom fly in. In addition to daily air shows, the event also includes learning centres for children and aircraft enthusiasts; aircraft of nearly every size, shape and era; evening programs, like a “fly-in” theatre, concerts, and presentations; and flight experiences.

EAA’s AirVenture started with inclement weather on Saturday evening. The TAF reported: KOSH 222320Z 2300/2324 23007KT P6SM VCSH BKN050 TEMPO 2301/2302 29018G28KT 3SM TSRA BKN035CB FM230500 26003KT P6SM SCT100 FM231600 29006KT P6SM SCT045 BKN100. Sunday had a high of 28C and mainly sunny skies, perfect for pre AirVenture activities, including the EAA Canada’s opening BBQ and Cirrus Aircraft Sunday Night Kickoff party.


Cirrus’ customer appreciation event, pulled out all the stops, delivering an event with food, drinks, live music and wall to wall aviators and enthusiasts, with factory staff on hand to answer any any all questions. With over 2,000 people in attendance and with founders Alan and Dale Klapmeier and over 2,000, the event kicked off Cirrus’s flight academy program, designed to take a student pilot from “zero to hero”.

Cirrus Aircraft announced its new, world-class Private Pilot Program designed to teach anyone to learn how to fly an SR Series Cirrus aircraft and earn their pilot’s license. The Private Pilot Program provides an immersive ground school training partnered with a dedicated Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP) through a Cirrus Training Centre to help students complete their Private Pilot License in a Cirrus aircraft.

COPA held a BBQ for Canadians on Tuesday evening at the SOS Brothers Beer Tent. More than 300 Canadians were in attendance, sampling fine Wisconsin food and drink. The camaraderie afforded at these events, illustrates how a common interest (aviation) can bring complete strangers together sharing experiences, insights and knowledge.

Many electric aircraft and eVTOLs were on display, including Hydroplane’s whose focus on research and development activities and the commercializations of electrifying aircraft with hydrogen fuel cells. Dr. Anita Sengupta, founder, reports that Grey Hydrogen is as low as $2 per kg, but Green Hydrogen is $6-plus per kg.

Their Piper Cherokee test vehicle holds 25 kg of hydrogen which delivers three to four hours of endurance. Compared to 100LL fuel costs, hydrogen will help reduce the cost of flying. More to come as Hydroplane works through the R&D and certification process with the FAA.

While SUN ‘n FUN is reputed to be the spring break for aviators, AirVenture is no doubt the centre of general aviation in North America, if not worldwide.

Checkout eaa.org/airventure for daily updates and live event streaming.