Don and Heather
Selkirk at their home away from home -
beside their Beech Musketeer in the North 40.
Don and Heather Selkirk, of Smiths Falls,
Ontario, started volunteering at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2004. Now
they're an important part of the North 40 operation.
"I'd gone to AirVenture for at least
10 years before I started volunteering," Don says. "There was
always something new I wanted to see. But now it's time to give
Heather agreed. In 2008, she'll be working
in the North 40, helping to check in campers, along with Don. But in the
past she has volunteered wherever she was needed.
"I've volunteered pumping gas for the
support vehicles, and I worked in the members' tent and kitchen …
wherever they told me to go," she says.
"It's the people and the atmosphere," Heather says. "It's
like a second family."
In fact, many AirVenture "family
members" flew to Canada for their fly-in wedding in July 2006. Not
surprisingly for those that know them, the Selkirks headed to AirVenture
for their honeymoon soon after.
"We may be long in tooth, but we do
Heather says they have met many interesting
people at AirVenture, and everyone is always happy to see one another.
"Plus, we really do enjoy helping
people," Don says. "We've been here long enough to tell them
what to do, where to go and what to see."
He recalled one man who came to AirVenture
for the day and asked Don what he should see. "I filled him in on
where he should go and what trams to go on…and he came back and bought
the whole week pass. That made my day."
AirVenture: It's more than aviation
While they enjoy the air show and everything AirVenture offers, it is the
goodwill and fellowship of other aviation enthusiasts that makes their
annual Oshkosh pilgrimage such an important part of their lives.
"We get together for events throughout
the week," Don says. "We have a barbecue, talk, relax. This is
our vacation. It is what we do for fun."
But it isn't what they always did for fun.
Both are latecomers to aviation. Don's wife bought him an introductory
flight for a 51st birthday present. Shortly after, he had his pilot's
license, a plane and a hangar - but no wife.
Heather was working in a restaurant to keep
her mind off the death of her husband. One customer convinced her she
needed to fly to forget her troubles. Once she earned her private pilot
license, Heather jokes that she went looking for a man with an airplane.
Don and Heather met at the airport and fly a Beech Musketeer.
They welcome anyone who's interested in
volunteering to stop by the North 40. "What usually happens is that
people will come in and say they can help for a few hours," Don says.
"And the next thing you know, they're there permanently."