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EAA and Volunteers: Right from the Beginning


First Fly-In



Where did EAA's volunteer culture come from? Where did aviation enthusiasts from everywhere around the globe decide that devoting their time and energy to aviation and EAA was more than T-shirts, mugs, camping spots and other trinkets, but instead something that created a wonderful "whole" from many individual efforts? A family.

only in Oshkosh......

For that, you have to go back to the beginning - a perfect time to talk about that as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of EAA's first meeting. Everybody was a volunteer after that first meeting, beginning with Paul and Audrey Poberezny as well as those early officers of the fledgling organization.

Paul often tells the story of EAA's first fly-in in 1953, or more specifically, the day after the fly-in. He recalls being alone on the airport grounds after a frantic weekend, picking up drinking cups, hot dog wrappers and chicken bones. It was then he knew that in order to make the event a success, it would take many hands helping, with people coordinating specific areas. It had to become our event, not just EAA's event.

In the August 1954 edition of the Experimenter, some of those early fly-in volunteers were recognized. There was Dave Frantz, in charge of aircraft parking and tiedowns; Stan Gerlack, who drove the "follow me" Jeep on the flightline; and Leo Kohn, a man of many hats who wrote articles, took photos and bought the trophies for the aircraft awards.

As EAA grew, so did the number of volunteers, responsibilities, and complexities. Through it all, however, one notion remains: Volunteers become part of something because they love it and want their efforts to contribute with others to become something larger than any one person. Most of you would agree that's why we're here. And that's the goal in the future.

Thank you for being the Heart and Soul of the EAA Family.


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