Sheboygan's 16th Wings And Wheels On Father's Day
Aviation Welcome Center at the Sheboygan County Airport
June 8, 2006 — June 18 is Father's Day, which means members of EAA Chapter 766 based at the Sheboygan County (Wisconsin) Airport (SBM) are busy preparing for their 16th annual Wings and Wheels event at the county's sparkling new Aviation Welcome Center located there.
Wings and Wheels brings thousands of people to the airport-SBM is the busiest general aviation airport in the state-for a day filled with activities, starting with a traditional EAA pancake breakfast. Throughout the day attendees can get up-close to classic aircraft and classic autos on display and talk with aviation sorts. A food court features local delicacies bratwurst (of course), burgers and kettle corn.
"This has really become a community-wide event," said Jim Miller, chapter president. "We get others involved representing other transportation, and people really turn out for it." The new aviation center will further enhance the event and perhaps convince visitors to make more visits to the airport throughout the rest of the year.
The welcome center has more than 10,000 square feet of space and includes an educational facility and museum, a lab/hangar where volunteers are currently working on restoring a T-33; an aviation library; kitchen facilities; offices and conference rooms, and an EAA chapter office. The mezzanine level overlooks the museum and connects with an outside observation deck (provided by chapter 766) overlooking the ramp and runway.
Jason Kreidler, chapter secretary and a center director, said the aviation center was built for aviation and the Chapter plays an important, constant role in that. "It's bigger than an EAA chapter, but the chapter was instrumental in funneling community interest in getting this multi-faceted project going," Kreidler said. "Our intention is for the center to break down the perceived barriers-remove the awe-that many people have about aviation "We built the building so people can experience aviation without having to look through a fence at the airport."
The Aviation Welcome Center, which celebrates its first year of operation this year, is a great example of community-wide cooperation. Corporate and individual contributions built the structure and ongoing support help fund its continued operation to serve several roles. It welcomes the great influx of visitors who travel to world-class Kohler Company golf facilities and the many large corporations in the area. Educational and motivational programs promote aviation and foster pride in the community for the area's rich and unique aviation history.
The building was open to the public for the first time at last year's Father's Day event.