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Aircraft Greeters Enter 40th Year of Welcoming, Assisting Oshkosh Attendees
By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer
July 21, 2018 - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the aircraft greeter volunteer team that welcomes pilots to Oshkosh and provides several essential services to anybody who flies in and parks in the North 40 or the Homebuilts area.
Dennis Spivey, EAA 558867, is the volunteer chairman of the aircraft greeter team and has volunteered with the program for 17 years total. Dennis has served as a greeter, co-chairman, vice-chairman, and finally in his current role as chairman.
“As the planes come in and they cut their engines and park, we take over and greet them and ask them if it’s their first time here,” Dennis said. “Then we go through a checklist with them, we make sure their master switch is off, that they didn’t have any jarring that could’ve set off their emergency transmitter, if they have tiedowns — they’re supposed to bring them, but sometimes they forget.”
Dennis said in addition to saying hello, aircraft greeters end up answering a lot of questions and serve as a first point of contact for folks who fly into Oshkosh. They also provide them with an AirVenture essential: directions.
“We have maps that we pull out,” Dennis said. “We show them where they’re at. We give them a handout with phone numbers on it and their frequencies and everything like that. They probably know them anyway, but just in case. And we write their road number on it — when they get back, there’s going to be 300 more planes out here.”
There is a lot to keep track of and plenty to do for aircraft greeters, but Dennis said he and the dedicated team of volunteers with him also enjoy introducing new faces to AirVenture.
“We have a lot of fun,” Dennis said. “Some of [the pilots] want to relax a little bit, because it’s stressful trying to land with four airplanes at a time. We try to calm them down a little bit, just joke about a few things and get them going, help them to have a good start to the program.”