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Gone West – Art Schwedler
July 1, 2021 – This past week the EAA community lost Arthur “Art” Schwedler, EAA Lifetime 1447 and Vintage 723389. Art was the co-chairman of, and helped to create, the EAA government host team, which is responsible for hosting all government officials and senior government agency staff during AirVenture. He had more than 30 years volunteering at Oshkosh, and sewed the patch from each on his award-winning blue EAA “Ike Jacket.”
Art’s connection with EAA ran deep. He grew up on a farm in Burlington, Wisconsin. One day, when he was around 11 or 12 years old, an airplane flew over his house and landed in a nearby field. Curious, his father drove him down to see the plane, and the pilot offered to take him flying. And so it was that Art Schwedler got his first airplane ride from a teenaged Paul Poberezny.
After a long career as a mechanic, flight engineer, pilot for the U.S. Air Force and the airlines, another bit of EAA serendipity got Art involved with the advocacy team at AirVenture. In 1986, Art was invited to be a part of a State Department goodwill trip to promote an aviation partnership with the Soviet Union. On the airplane to Moscow, a fellow delegation traveler noticed that Schwedler brought a number of EAA souvenirs with him to give away to the Soviet delegation. The fellow traveler turned out to be EAA’s director of government relations Charlie Schuck, who asked Schwedler to get in contact with him before the next Oshkosh fly-in. When Schwedler made the contact and arrived in Oshkosh a few months later, he went to work showing the visiting FAA officials around the grounds. It was Art’s volunteerism in that first convention that formed the basis of today’s government host team.
Art had a key role in greeting the FAA administrator upon arrival from Washington, D.C. Every year he climbed up into the FAA jet to welcome the officials to Oshkosh, and was the first EAA face to meet the FAA delegation. In this role Art personally welcomed nine different FAA administrators to Oshkosh over the years.
Though he played an instrumental role in hosting the FAA administrator and other government officials, Art cited as his proudest moment at AirVenture an occasion when he went well off the normal tour route to take a group of FAA airworthiness staff by some of the exquisitely restored vintage aircraft that regularly visit Oshkosh. At the time, these staffers were considering regulations that threatened to ground many vintage aircraft. After listening to the engineers praise the airplanes and the restorations, Schwedler paused for a moment and said, “Well, take a picture of them now, because if you guys [enact this regulation] they won’t be flying for very much longer. They’ll end up in the back of a garage.” The proposed rule was shelved.
For many years Art was also the primary host and conduit to NASA and key NASA officials attending AirVenture. The NASA administrator was always hosted by Art, which led the agency’s leadership to maintain strong ties with EAA. During his tenure, Art even received invitations to space shuttle launches for his outstanding work as their host.
Throughout his life, Art was an ardent EAA’er in his hometown as well, most notably serving as president of Chapter 839 in Sciota, Pennsylvania. Art held EAA designations as a technical counselor and flight advisor.
Art Schwedler was a dedicated and essential volunteer to EAA for three decades, accounting for more than 1,000 volunteer hours during AirVenture, with many more at his home chapter and helping the Advocacy and Safety department prepare for the event. His was truly an aviation life well lived and he will be sorely missed.