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Australian Veteran Attends 29th Oshkosh Convention
By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer
July 26, 2018 - Bill Babb, EAA 374804, has a lot in common with the average EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 attendee. He first came because he heard about the awesome experiences in Oshkosh; he now comes back for people just as much as he does for the airplanes. Bill has spent most of his life in close proximity to flight.
Bill is also different from the average attendee in a few ways. He is 93 years old, served in the military during World War II, and makes the long trip from Australia to get to AirVenture every year. Bill has been to 29 straight Oshkosh fly-in conventions, and he’s got no plans to slow down anytime soon.
During WWII Bill served in the Royal Australian Air Force as a radio navigational calibrator. He first heard about AirVenture from friends who told him he had to check it out. So he did.
“I talked to friends who had been, and they were so excited about Oshkosh. They said it was a great place to go,” Bill said. “I was so happy I did, because I just keep on coming back.”
In addition to his military service, Bill also worked for the Australian government after the war as part of the Australian Department of Civil Aviation, which eventually dissolved in November 1973. Bill spent much of his time in aviation flying in Douglas DC-3s, Fokker F27s, and Fokker F28s. He gets excited every time he sees a DC-3 in Oshkosh.
“I love the old DC-3,” Bill said. “I spent so much time inside them, I know them very well.”
Bill has made plenty of friendships during his time in Oshkosh, some good enough that they’ve invited Bill to stay with them during his trip to AirVenture 2018. Bill’s friend and fellow Australian Adrian Heinrich, EAA 1001649, said folks are usually drawn to speak to Bill, who is always game to talk to someone new.
“I find that every person I come in contact with becomes a friend,” Bill said. “Occasionally I’ve been invited to people’s homes to come and visit.”
The airplanes Bill finds himself drawn to these days are the big iron. He said when captains of the big jets find out he used to be a navigator he’s often asked to come sit at their navigation station to take a picture, something he very much enjoys doing.