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KidVenture Turns 20 at AirVenture 2018

By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer

  • KidVenture Turns 20 at AirVenture 2018
    One of the most iconic parts of KidVenture is the nametags made as part of a useful lesson on riveting. They cannot be bought, so the satisfaction of owning one includes anyone seeing it knowing the wearer made it themselves. Roughly 1,500 are made each year at KidVenture.

July 21, 2018 - KidVenture, the area of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh meant to help introduce young people to aviation, is celebrating its 20th anniversary at AirVenture 2018.

Located at Pioneer Airport, this highly interactive area contains hands-on building and piloting activities just for kids. Participants can earn FAA credit through hands-on building projects that count toward A&P certificates, learn how to fly an RC airplane, and more.

Introduced in 1998, KidVenture was originally housed in a large tent outside of the Eagle Hangar. EAA board member and KidVenture volunteer chair Dan Majka, EAA Lifetime 90726, said that first year took a lot of quick work from Chapter 790 volunteers to get ready.

“After the last person left from the Gathering, we cleaned up all the tables, rolled them out, put booths up, curtains, things like that,” Dan said. “And we had our simple activities for KidVenture. We were expecting 500 kids, and we had 50 volunteers. Two thousand [kids] showed up. It went from there, and expanded every year.”

KidVenture eventually moved to Pioneer Airport, where it has since expanded to the Wittman and Vetter hangars as well. With plenty of space indoors, plus 5 acres outside for RC flying and other activities, KidVenture gives AirVenture’s younger attendees lots to explore.

These days, 450 volunteers ensure roughly 20,000 kids have a great time and leave KidVenture knowing more about aviation than they did when they arrived. That education expands beyond piloting, according to Dan.

“The important thing is not to make them a pilot,” he said. “The important thing is to make them an aviation enthusiast.”

Dan started KidVenture at the behest of former EAA President Tom Poberezny, and said the program has met its initial goals. New programs, such as teaching rib stitching and sand casting a medallion, have been introduced for 2018.

“We try to keep things fresh, because we have a lot of repeat customers come back year after year,” he said. “We have kids who went through KidVenture, have grown up, are now volunteering as adults, and are bringing their kids through. It’s a family thing, and that’s what Tom wanted.”

The KidVenture area is open Monday, July 23, through Saturday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and on Sunday, July 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shuttles run throughout the day between the Bus Park Tower and the EAA Aviation Museum.
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