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Dorothy Hilbert Award Recipient Part of Vintage Family

by Megan Esau

July 18, 2015 - Patty Dorlac, EAA 871269, of Windsor, Colorado, has been a dedicated volunteer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for 28 years. The organization will honor her today at 3 p.m. when she receives EAA’s Dorothy Hilbert Award at the Volunteer Park celebration. The annual award honors women who share the late Dorothy Hilbert’s passion, dedication, and devotion for volunteerism.

Patty is familiar with the Hilbert name and has always looked up to Dorothy’s husband, Buck, a director emeritus for the Vintage Aircraft Association and an overall iconic EAA Lifetime member (No. 21). “To receive an honor in his wife’s name and to be put in the same league as her is a big deal to me,” Patty said.

Patty was introduced to the annual Oshkosh convention and fly-in when she and her husband, Walt, were newlyweds. Patty began volunteering at AirVenture in 1987 parking airplanes in the North 40. When she started volunteering for Operation Thirst, she discovered the world beyond the planes.

Later on Patty moved to the Vintage area volunteering in the safety and flightline operations areas, as she and her husband owned a Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3 project. She now co-chairs flightline training and safety.

The number one reason Patty said she continues to come back year after year is the people she gets to work and share her passions with. “Everyone in Vintage is like a family for me,” Patty said. “The planes are awesome, of course, but the people…everybody’s there with the same purpose and a common interest, and you’re just instant family.”

Patty said she draws her love for giving her time from the myriad other volunteers and hopes she can pay it forward.

“They laid the foundation for me by passing on their passion and excitement for Vintage and EAA,” Patty said. “I hope that I can do the same for the wonderful men and women I have the privilege of working with each year. They have truly touched my life.”

Patty said while she is honored to receive the award, she knows there are more women equally worthy of recognition. She said it is not just one volunteer, but all volunteers—from those who work during the fly-in to those who work throughout the year who help make AirVenture the success that it is.
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