July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - Not
only is Wittman Field the world’s busiest airport during the EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in convention, it’s also the world’s happiest
international arrivals terminal.
year thousands of visitors from dozens of countries attend AirVenture.
Last year’s tally was more than 2,000 visitors from more than 70
nations. For 35 years now, the International Visitors Tent (IVT) served as
host to them, providing helpful information, a place to meet, and
translators to answer their questions.
this year the operation has a new location: Their big yellow-andwhite tent
is just north of the control tower at the corner of Knapp Street Road and
was launched in 1974 when the EAA sought volunteers to make some expected
visitors from Australia feel at home. That remains the IVT’s mission to
about 25 to 30 volunteers and speak about as many languages,” Michel
Bryson, IVT chairman said.
international visitors come with groups on airlines. But some fly their
own aircraft from overseas, and this year the Oshkosh-bound owner-flown
fleet includes 16 aircraft from Germany, 10 from across Europe led by
Britain’s Rodney Blois, and a pair of aircraft from South Africa and
from Italy, according to the IVT.
visitors will be feted at the annual International Visitors Parade at noon
on Friday. Marching behind the flags of their nations to an official
welcoming to AirVenture, this year’s ceremony includes a scheduled
meeting with Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles
of the US Airways Flight 1549, the flight crew that safely ditched an
Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in January. The meeting was arranged at
the behest of longtime Brazilian attendee Claudio Candiota.
an opportunity for the international community to show the admiration and
respect for the crew,” Bryson said.
IVT maintains a bulletin board for posting messages and guest books where
visitors can register. Volunteers recall long lost friends from overseas
who’ve discovered each other at AirVenture by looking through the guest
we had a German gentleman who had never been to the fly-in but had always
been interested in aviation,” recalled longtime IVT volunteer Barbro
Whiting. “He and a buddy who later moved to Canada had promised each
other they were going to become pilots. We looked in the guest book and
saw his buddy was here, and arranged for them to come to the tent at the
same time. They fell into each other’s arms and cried, and they’ve
been visiting back and forth ever since.”
don’t have to live outside the United States to be welcome at the tent.
Many attendees drop by simply to meet pilots and aviation enthusiasts from
around the world, or because they’re planning on visiting a particular
country and hope to meet someone who can provide advice on traveling to
that a lot,” said Bryson. “U.S. pilots who are planning on flying to a
particular country will come here because they want to meet someone from
that country.” The IVT proves that enthusiasm for aviation knows no