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Chapter 50 Volunteer Helps Make Project ‘Give Flight’ a Success

By Brett Hahn

August 2015 - To a first-time visitor, the Oshkosh experience can be overwhelming. The behind-the-scenes effort involved to keep the convention running smoothly is a challenge taken up by more than 5,000 skilled, talented, and experienced volunteers that come to Oshkosh by air, car, motor home, bike, and seaplane. It’s these volunteers that work the miracle.

Roger Munsterman is a retired tool and die machinist who put in 39 years helping General Motors build the finest cars and trucks in the world. After raising three daughters with his wife, Karen, he started flying Piper Warriors in Sandusky, Ohio. The family later moved to Huron, Ohio, and in 1996 Roger discovered EAA Chapter 50 by way of its pancake breakfast. Almost immediately, he started volunteering at Chapter 50’s Young Eagles events and helped Boy Scouts earn their aviation merit badges each summer.

Roger is one of those experienced, highly skilled, get-it-done people who selflessly give of their time. As a key volunteer for the EAA Homebuilders programs, he typically shows up a week before Oshkosh starts and is tasked with setting up shop, coordinating the build-out of the tent, moving shop equipment, air compressors, parts, and materials. This year, he supported five wing-building teams during the “Give Flight” event.

Roger worked at Oshkosh for 14 days straight to support the “Give Flight” effort, starting at 7 a.m. each day and not leaving each night until all the tools and equipment were cleaned up, the floors were swept, and the shop was ready to go for the next day. In his spare time, he built wing cradles from scratch. Twelve-hour days were the norm, except for one Thursday afternoon when he slipped away to go fly in a B-17.

As Roger helped coordinate the efforts of five wing-building teams, he shared his knowledge and skills with more than 2,000 eager Oshkosh visitors who wanted to experience riveting and be a part of building an airplane wing. A towering 6-foot 5-inch Roger would often be found kneeling down, relating to young riveters in a way that only a grandfather of nine can do.

When I asked Roger if he would be back next summer to volunteer, he leaned back in his chair and said, “If you have something to build, call me!” Spoken like a true EAAer.

Thanks, Roger. You are the Spirit of Aviation.

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