OSHKOSH — Several hundred flight enthusiasts packed into EAA's Eagle Hangar for a celebration of aviation at the Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet. Beyond just commemorating the history of flight, the event also celebrated its present and looked forward to its future.
Longtime EAA members Mike and Mark Patey—who together broke the trans-continental speed record for an internal combustion engine aircraft—spoke at the banquet. They said the EAA makes what they do possible.
“The experimental aircraft association is really the organization that protects our freedom to have a crazy idea…and go try something new and different," said Mark. "Without this organization, there’s no way we would see aviation advance the way it does today.”
The Pateys pointed to advances like parachutes and avionics as innovations that began in the world of experimental aircraft before catching on with commercial aviation and ultimately made flying less dangerous.
“The things that happen with the EAA, it translates into general aviation. It makes everybody safer,” said Mike.
Greg Steinlage—another longtime EAA member—also attended the event. He sees the spirit of experimentation embodied by the Wright Brothers and continued on by EAA still alive and well, and thinks it will lead to great leaps in flight in the future.
“That spirit is still there today in experimental aircraft and new fuels and low carbon engines," he said, "It’s just continuing to exponentially grow.”