August 2, 2014 - When asked what he thought about the new combination classroom and workshop buildings in the Builder’s Education Center, George Donaldson simply replied, “We love it!”
Donaldson, who has been teaching wood aircraft construction at AirVenture since 2000, now helps prospective airplane builders construct wing ribs in a facility with concrete floors, audio visual systems, and means for managing outside elements like sun and rain.
A line of three metal buildings now supports the education program. Each structure houses a classroom on the south side, and a workshop on the north. Overhead doors can be adjusted when necessary to manage light and to keep the rain out.
A series of wooden workshop structures built for the very first Oshkosh convention served the education center well for 43 years. But they had limitations. There were no walls, they contained very little storage space, and the asphalt floors were nearly impossible to clean.
Those buildings are gone now.
In another development for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014, the Aeroplane Factory moved from its traditional tent facility to a hangar building east of the workshops.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in traffic,” Carl Franz, Workshops co-chairman said of the new factory location.
With the improved facility Franz hopes to expand offerings to include new aircraft construction in addition to the repair activities offered this year.
Wayne Ray, Workshops chairman, expects nearly 7,000 builders and prospective builders to attend sessions this year.
“We have had an increase in attendance,” Ray said. “Before we had people that walked right by our old wood buildings and never stopped. With these new buildings, people stop.”
For Ray it is all about the numbers. The new facilities are drawing more people and, as a result, may allow increasing some workshop offerings from two sessions each day, to three.