You can find pretty much anything at EAA Airventure if you look hard enough. But one thing that is missing--which surprises me--is protesters. One would think that an event that draws an estimated half-million people to a fairly concentrated area would be ripe for protest from any number of groups on the left.
To environmentalists, Airventure must be an ecological "disaster". Ten-thousand aircraft--most of which are carrying just one or two people--traveling hundreds and thousands of miles burning up millions of gallons of aviation fuel. Radial engines leaking motor oil all over the place. Warbirds with no exhaust controls filling the air with fumes. And six F-16 fighters burning through jet fuel just to put on a show for people. It's enough to bring a Green Party member to tears just thinking about it.
The "economic disparity" crowd should also hate Airventure. Flying is a very expensive hobby--meaning only the "economically advantaged" can afford to do it. And now Wisconsin is offering tax breaks on the purchase of airplane parts and service in the state--meaning "less tax revenue for public education". I was surprised that the Thunderbirds weren't greeted at the the Wittman terminal last week with signs reading "Feed the children of 14-year old high school dropouts who decided to have unprotected sex--not fighter jets!"
The cultural diversity gang could also get into the act in Oshkosh as well. Just eight percent of private pilots are women. The number of racial minorities in the industry is even smaller. The crowds and performers at Airventure resemble that of hockey, NASCAR or golf--other sports criticized for their racial makeup all the time. And let's not forget the "culturally insenstive" practice of naming aircraft "Cherokees", "Apaches" and "Blackhawks".
Perhaps the protesters assume that the government will take care of all the issue they have with Airventure and private aviation. There can always be increases in aviation fuel taxes. The EPA can place new restrictions on pollution controls and fuel efficiency ratings that will rob engines of the power needed to safely operate some aircraft. There are always user fees that could be imposed to make the important tasks of taking off and landing more expensive at public airports. And major events like Airventure could be made to purchase Carbon Credit offsets to make up for the "wasted energy" that comes with all of those planes flying there--and all of the cars driving to the grounds as well.
Maybe one day we will see the protesters lining up along Poborezny Drive demanding the EAA cowtow to their beliefs. It would certainly give us in the media something new to talk about out there.