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2019 EAA Volunteers of the Year Announced

By Sam Oleson

  • Geoff Downey
    Geoff Downey

July 21, 2019 - The 2019 EAA Volunteers of the Year have been announced, and this year's winners represent many of the values that EAA holds important. This year, there are two Volunteer of the Year recipients: Geoff Downey, EAA 105011, and Pete Eide, EAA 90130.

Geoff has been volunteering at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for more than 28 years, with the vast majority of it as the rotorcraft chairman. When Geoff learned he'd been selected as a Volunteer of the Year, he was in disbelief.

"When I was first called, I was honestly in disbelief and responded with a polite, 'You really need to double-check this!' After that, when it became real, still not knowing the scope of this, I was honored and humbled to even be considered," Geoff explained. "One reason this thought was so crazy is I’m small potatoes, as I say, on the food chain of importance. When I was speaking of this with a friend, I said with a smile I must have gotten some points on how many clothes I have with EAA on them. My friend smiled and agreed. … This award is accepted on behalf of our rotorcraft team and all of the volunteers that get it done. I have the best people in the world who get our flight operations done safely, along with all of the great pilots who come each year."

As far as what brings Geoff back, it's not only the camaraderie, but also all of the great aircraft.

"I guess everybody picks out their own reasons and why they come back. But I think one of the stronger reasons is you see people from all over the world that you only see once a year, so it's really a homecoming situation."

Meanwhile, Pete has been volunteering with EAA for more than 50 years and has been to every Oshkosh convention. He began his volunteer duties in security and then moved to the exhibits area, where he has spent the majority of his volunteer service.

"I guess it's kind of gotten to be a habit," Pete said of volunteering at AirVenture. "It's summertime, it's July. It's time to go to Wisconsin. You meet so many interesting people at Oshkosh."

The Volunteers of the Year award ceremony will be held at Volunteer Park on Sunday, July 21, at 3 p.m.

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