Photo by Phil Weston
Ray Fiset, co-chairman of Information and Lost and Found.
August 1, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin
AirVenture Oshkosh’s Information and Lost and Found booth is known for
returning some interesting and expensive things to their owners.
What’s even more interesting is how the
booth itself was started.
Ray Fiset, co-chairman of Information and Lost
and Found, was at EAA’s fly-in at Rockford, Illinois in 1963, standing
by a break in the snow fence that divided the public area from the
flightline. People kept approaching him and asking questions, assuming he
was standing there for that purpose.
Rather than move to a different spot, he
talked to EAA Founder Paul Poberezny and suggested setting up an
information booth. Poberezny came back with a card table and beach
umbrella and put him to work.
From then on, Fiset has been volunteering at
From Quebec, Canada, Fiset drives 20 hours to
get to Oshkosh. He hasn’t missed a year at the booth—and he has seen a
lot over the years.
“Of everything that’s been found, I’d
say 95 percent has been returned,” he said. Most of the rest is just
junk, according to him.
While many of the items are of little value to
anyone else, they are often priceless to the owner.
“To him, it’s worth more than you could
ever imagine,” Fiset said.
“The expression on the faces of the people
that get their stuff back is priceless.”
Items returned to the booth range from a bag
of 12 pennies brought in by a brother and sister who were about six or
seven years old, to a $300,000 diamond-studded watch brought in by a
Though the pennies probably wouldn’t have
been missed, the watch—well, that was undoubtedly missed.
Its return shows the honesty of the people who
come to AirVenture.
And it’s not always a “thing” that gets
turned in; sometimes the “lost” item is of the precious human kind –
a child with a missing parent.
Children who’ve been brought to the Lost and
Found booth are always well-behaved, according to Fiset. While waiting for
their worrying parents to pick them up, he used to give them candy to keep
“The little devils got wise to that and
would get lost on purpose,” he chuckled.
“Now we keep coloring books.”
One of the strangest things he remembers being
returned was the bottom half of a pair of dentures that had been in the
box since the year before. When the owner came to claim it he stuck it in
his mouth and went on his way, without so much as wiping it off.
The official hours of operation for the booth
are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but Fiset keeps the door open much longer if people
need help, often from 7:15 a.m. to 11 p.m.
He even sleeps in the little building to avoid
the time-consuming process of having security come to log all the items
and secure them for the night.
“If anything disappears, I’m responsible,”
The Information and Lost and Found booth is
located by the Sky Shoppe. It can be reached at 920-230-7912.