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EAA AirVenture returns with coronavirus safety protocols

Associated Press

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FILE - Stunt pilot Sean D. Tucker, in the rear seat of the plane at right, flies his red Team Oracle Extra 300L with Grant Matthews, 16, who is a student at Raisbeck Aviation High School and a member of the EAA Young Eagles program, in the front seat as they fly in formation with U.S. Navy Blue Angels' Lt. Tyler Davies, left, and Cmdr. Frank Weisser, center, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) — The aviation event that draws hundreds of thousands of people to Oshkosh returns this summer after the coronavirus pandemic forced organizers of EAA AirVenture to cancel last year’s gathering.

Safety protocols will be front and center this year at AirVenture, billed as the world’s largest fly-in convention.

EAA CEO Jack Pelton says the arrival of vaccines will help return the crowds to Wittman Regional Airport, but precautions have been planned.

Masks will be strongly recommended if attendees are unable to socially distance. Proof of a COVID-19 vaccine will not be required to attend.

EAA has planned for about 30% fewer people this summer than previous conventions. But, that might not hold true.

“We’re already seeing in our pre-sale that the numbers are probably greater than 2019,” Pelton said. An aviation event in Florida last week had record crowds, Pelton added.

Pelton said the number of international visitors will depend on that country’s travel restrictions come summer.

“Europe and other countries, Australia, we usually get large contingence from, right now most of them are saying travel is not possible,” said Pelton.

AirVenture organizers say the grounds will have a significant number of sanitizing stations and industry-leading companies have been tapped to continual disinfect the area.

There will be fewer exhibitors in each indoor exhibition building, creating more walkways and separation between exhibitors.

The convention runs from July 26 through Aug. 1.

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