Oshkosh is the place to be

From 28 July to 3 August, the town of Oshkosh, in the US state of Wisconsin, becomes the place of choice for up to 750,000 people with one interest in mind - a passion for flying. Some 10,000 aircraft will be flown into EAA AirVenture by enthusiasts from around the world. This is the annual convention of the Experimental Aircraft Association - known universally as EAA - a body formed in 1953 as a local club for those who restored and built their own aircraft.

Today, the EAA has 170,000 members - mostly from the US, but including 20,000 from over 100 countries in Europe, South America and Africa. Aside from the festivities in Oshkosh (not surprisingly, it's the world's largest general aviation gathering), the EAA is involved in a wide number of other activities. They include:

• a programme known as Young Eagles, designed to introduce young people aged 8-17 to general aviation, and to inspire them to discover more www.youngeagles.org

• a wide range of aviation safety programmes, particularly aimed at homebuilt aircraft and praised for their effectiveness by the US Federal Aviation Administration

• a tour of the US by members with their own historic aircraft, including a Boeing B-17 bomber, a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor airliner and a replica of Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St Louis"

• other youth education programmes, including an annual Air Academy residence camps held at Oshkosh

The EAA also lobbies the US Government "to protect the right of all qualified individuals to fly", with staff continually monitoring legislative and regulatory activity. And it offers members the benefits of a US national network of technical counsellors to provide help and advice to those building or restoring their own aircraft.

Joining in the fun

The Oshkosh convention is an annual rite for many visitors - and is not reflecting only with the general aviation market. Also present are people from NASA and the US military, business jet manufacturers, pilot-training companies and the inevitable gadget manufacturers. As part of its strategy of raising awareness of the .aero domain with business aircraft operators, pilots and aviation professionals - as well as air sports participants - the .aero team will be exhibiting at this year's event. US-based .aero registrar NamesBeyond and .aero's registry operator Afilias will represent .aero and sponsor the stand, while SITA will sponsor shipping and the collateral. If you happen to be present at Oshkosh, do come by and see us. We'll report back on our experience in the next newsletter. Meanwhile, to find out more, go to www.eaa.org for the EAA's website, or www.airventure.org for the Oshkosh convention.