Carl Tortorige puts up
signs to prepare the AirVenture grounds for the annual fly-in and
Carl Tortorige drives the
tram in Vintage aircraft.
Pat Tortorige works at the
volunteer booth in Vintage aircraft. Her daughter, Annette, smiles for
Pat and Carl Tortorige say it's contagious.
That's the only way to explain why, as of this year, they will have been
volunteering during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for 27 years and 22 years,
The Tortoriges, of Quincy, Illinois, have
volunteered in many areas - Operation Thirst, transient aircraft, maintenance,
and Vintage aircraft, among others.
"There is no favorite place for me to
volunteer," says Pat. "The satisfaction I get out of volunteering is
knowing that whatever I seem to be doing is appreciated. It allows me to give
back to the organization that has given me so much more in return."
When the couple first came to the fly-in
convention in 1977 with their 11-month-old, they were not pilots. But once they
got the bug, it didn't take long for that to change. By 1979, both had their
private pilots license and in 1989 they completed a Kitfox homebuilt.
Throughout the years, they added two more children to their family, as well as
a Cessna 182.
Now retired, Pat works as vice chairwoman of the
Vintage volunteer booth, helping to coordinate the 400-450 volunteers there,
and Carl drives the tram, hauling people to see the antique and classic
airplanes. Before convention, you'll find them both helping in South
"It gives you a little bit of ownership
when you help to prepare for the convention," Carl says. "You look
around and know that you did this or that. The visiting public really
appreciates…the way everything looks."
The Tortoriges give a lot of their time
volunteering for EAA; Pat estimates that in 2007, they each spent about 160
hours volunteering on the AirVenture grounds, including helping to set up. But
to others thinking about volunteering, they encourage them to try it - if only
for a few hours.
"There is something for everyone to
do," she says. "People tend to have more fun at Oshkosh when they
volunteer. And once you do it, you won't stop."