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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedThe Heart of AirVenture: Volunteers Prepare for Oshkosh
 
  

Volunteers Frank Weiss, left, and Roger White are next-door neighbors in EAA's Camp Scholler.

Volunteer Ken Peterson, from Oshkosh, helps out on welding projects in the South Maintenance area.

(l to r) Marge Greene and Lonnie Benson discuss the new, larger convention trams with EAA staffer Jim Kersting.

It's been said so many times that it’s almost a cliché: EAA AirVenture Oshkosh simply could not happen without the thousands of dedicated volunteers that come to Oshkosh every year. Along with their hard work during the weeklong convention, there's also a lot to do to get ready before the big show. Camp Scholler opened last weekend - a month before opening day - and volunteers have been streaming in ever since to begin whatever work needs be done.

When talking to AirVenture volunteers, it's easy to understand why they come year after year: they have the know-how and willingness to do almost anything, and they absolutely cherish the relationships they've made over the years through EAA.

Bev Weiss, of Arizona says, "The people are the best part; we wouldn't do it without them." She works as the chairman for the courtesy cars and has been volunteering for EAA for the past 15 years, making sure the vehicles provided by Ford Motor Company are ready when people come to pick them up. Her job is "stressful, but enjoyable," she said, but she also helps out in the volunteer kitchen, which feeds many volunteers before and during the big week.

Bev's husband, Frank, has been volunteering here since his job brought him to Oshkosh 20 years ago. He started out at Pioneer Airport doing a number of tasks, from dusting and sweeping to helping shuffle airplanes in and out of hangers. Working at Pioneer got him interested in aviation, he said, and he now helps Bev with the cars as well as in the kitchen.

The RV trailer next to Frank and Bev belongs to Roger White, of Collinsville, Oklahoma. His time with EAA goes back to the beginning – Roger, EAA 41, attended the first conventions held in 1953 at Milwaukee's Curtiss-Wright (later Timmerman) Field. He followed the convention through the Rockford, Illinois, years (1959-1969), and then Oshkosh. His wife also volunteers in the EAA Warehouse, helping to organize the plethora of AirVenture merchandise sold at various locations around convention grounds. Roger usually helps out with maintenance on the display aircraft, which was part of his career before retirement. But like so many of the volunteers, he is always willing to do anything else that needs to be completed. "Aviation has always been a hobby," said Roger, who has built a Nesmith Cougar and a Pietenpol.

In the south maintenance area, volunteers are busy outfitting a set of new tram cars to be used during this year's convention. These cars will fit four times as many people, and the plan is to introduce five per year. "The backs are a problem" said Ken Peterson, Oshkosh, explaining the need to that alter the fiberglass seats so they fit together on the custom-made platform. Ken says he started volunteering last year to help his friend, EAA staff member Jim Kersting, and also to keep busy after 21 years in the gas industry.

While Ken was busy welding parts for the new tram base, Marge Greene and Lonnie Benson carried in a piece of steel with a number of different treatments for Jim to choose from. Marge started volunteering four years ago and "fell in love instantly" with EAA. An Indiana resident, Marge has volunteered in the warehouse, as a greeter, and most recently learning to use an industrial sewing machine to reupholster the fleet of service trucks. She says her interest in aviation started when a friend began building a Sonex, and she "needed stuff to do" so she decided to help him out.

Lonnie first came to EAA about 20 years ago and has been volunteering for the past 15. EAA is not his only experience with aviation though; he is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. His eyesight kept him on the ground so he worked "from electrons to photons" as an electrical engineer in the Air Force's research and development area. Over the years, he has helped with painting, plumbing, and maintenance around the grounds. Lonnie is also a homebuilder, nearing the completion of a Murphy Rebel. Lonnie says he enjoys how many smart people and pilots he has met through EAA.

It's obvious that EAA volunteers like to keep busy, and with all of the work to be done in preparation for the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration, there's always something to do to help out. New volunteers are always welcome, too, so click here for more information.

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