EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedWorkers Are AirVenture's Wings: They Make it Happen
EAA is proud of all the past, present, and future workers and volunteers
EAA would not be what it is today without the amazing workers and volunteers who have shared in the spirit of aviation over the years. Many of these people catch wind of the unique atmosphere that Oshkosh gives its attendees that they continue giving service to the event.

The AirVenture workers and volunteers combine the aviation adventure with their various talents, skills, and interests to be part of the "World's Greatest Aviation Celebration."

Volunteer positions range from greeters to maintenance, AirVenture Museum to interpreters. More information is available about volunteering during AirVenture at http://www.airventure.org/volunteers/. There are also positions available to work during AirVenture on fuel trucks, security, receptionist, clerks, and more at www.eaa.org/careers/ under the AirVenture 2009 heading.

The following is a glimpse into one worker's long history at EAA AirVenture:

Forty years ago in the summer of 1969, the papers were filled with stories of a possible move of the EAA headquarters and convention from Rockford, IL, to Oshkosh, WI. As a 30-year-old science teacher who would incorporate aerospace activities into the curriculum, I was intrigued by these stories.

As history goes, the move did occur and with a few weeks before the first convention in Oshkosh, I went down to Basler Flight Service. Warren and Pat Basler's service is one of the outlets for the aircraft to receive fuel. The couple hired me on spot and off to work I went.

The first convention was not big on scale terms, but left me with lasting memories of a wonderful time. For that first convention and the years following, I could be found somewhere out in front of the tower, fueling airplanes including homebuilts, warbirds, and antiques. These convention years were filled with excitement and heartfelt memories along with meeting wonderful and historical people.

Sometimes, there would be excitement and danger mixed together. One day Red, a test pilot for Zenair, came by pushing a Cricket, the world's smallest, two-engine ultralight. I stepped out of my truck and said, "Hey you cheapskate, you haven't bought any gas for awhile." He responded with something smart and away he went flying, even though things didn't sound right. Suddenly Red veered left, heading toward my truck and crash landed right behind me. I rushed over to where Red had opened the cockpit and was looking good. I said, "Red are you okay?" and he said, "I should have bought some gas."

One year, I took some students along to help fuel the airplanes. As we sat down along the flight line for lunch, Chuck Yeager came and sat down. Yeager is known for becoming the first pilot in 1947 to travel faster than sound. It came apparent that I forgot to teach my students who he was when one of them shouted, "Who is Chuck Yeager?" Having my students along was a great learning experience for us all.

I have been fortunate over the years to have met wonderful people, including those who have left a lasting impression on the aviation world: Robin Olds, a triple ace from WWII and Vietnam; Adolf Galland, German ace and one of the 27 recipients of the German Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross; and Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, the first two people to set foot on the moon. One of the most inspiring stories I heard was from George Henry Gay Jr., a TBD Devastator pilot in the U.S. Navy Torpedo Squadron 8 during WWII. His stories of the battle surrounding him on the day in the Battle of Midway are priceless tales that I have taken back to my classroom to share with my students, along with countless other pieces of oral history.

A week or so ago, I was driving my horse and carriage during a community event when a former student and his family climbed abroad. He reminded me of the time I had taken him to the air show and what a wonderful time we had. By coincidence, as we continued talking, an older man with his WWII hat came up and said, "Mr. Cavanaugh, you took me to the air show a few years ago and I had such a wonderful time, I want to say thank you again."

It's moments like these that make my AirVenture experience so worthwhile: knowing that I am able to enrich the lives of others, as I do so for myself at AirVenture. That's what it's all about.

I have been fortunate to have watched over all these years to see what the convention has grown in to today: a place of true aviation spirit, memories, and camaraderie. I'm not sure if I'll be on the field with a fuel truck this year, as I hope I do, but if that doesn't happen, I'll be back at AeroShell Square.

I wouldn't trade the time spent as a worker for anything. However, after 40 years of riding the fuel truck, I'm hanging up my red Snap-On Suspenders after August 2 in hopes that in the following years I will come to AirVenture as a guest.

Thanks to all my friends, past, present and future - I'll see you around.

- Rodger Cavanaugh
40 years, Oshkosh EAA

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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