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Volunteer Spotlight: Jim Hantschel, EAA Chapter 838
By Jessica Luft, EAA 1084418, HR Business Partner
February - Jim Hantschel, EAA 230426, is from Racine, Wisconsin, where he’s been a longtime dedicated volunteer to EAA Chapter 838 since it started in the early 1990s. A private pilot since 1982, Jim is also a longtime Young Eagles Pilot with more than 640 flights.
As Chapter 838 grew, there was the challenge of obtaining volunteers. Jim was able to help as the chapter’s treasurer for more than 10 years. Jim has also served on the board of directors for the past 18 years and continues to do so. Both Jim and his wife, Barb, help in many areas when needed for the chapter, such as cleaning, fund-raisers, banquets, holiday parties, and much more.
Jim initially became part of the Young Eagles Program by helping with ground support and classroom work. He never found the right opportunity to be a Young Eagles pilot until a Saturday afternoon in 1999. That day, Jim showed up to give ground support, but saw only one pilot for a large number of eager kids to fly for the first time. The one pilot was Sam Johnson, who was the founding force for Young Eagles. That day, Jim began flying kids to help. He also made a promise to help every month going forward at the Young Eagles rallies. Years later, Sam before died of cancer, and he looked Jim in the eye and said, “Keep Young Eagles going.” To this day, there is a great crew of pilots, including Jim, and ground support to do as Sam asked. Jim’s Young Eagles heroes (other than Sam Johnson) are Warren Levin and Roger Blocks, two long-time pilots at Chapter 838.
Jim’s favorite part of the Young Eagles Program is to fly with someone for the first time and see the thrill and excitement in their eyes. It is the most fun part of being a pilot.
“Those are the kids we fly for, and those are the ones who will be the next generation of flyers,” he said. “Some of my early Young Eagles are already pilots, flight instructors, aviation military personnel, and Aviation Explorers (who now help teach our ground school).”
When Jim isn’t out supporting Chapter 838 and the Young Eagle Flight Program he’s working as pharmacist. He plans to retire in the near future but loves what he does, so is in no hurry.
Jim also enjoys history, and collects historical documents signed by Presidents and signers of the Declaration of Independence. Jim and Barb have a very good time sharing these documents with schoolkids and have even presented to EAA Chapter 838 when speakers were unable to make it to its meetings.