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CARTS Program: Here to Serve Guests

By Dennis Mangan, EAA 310346, CARTS Program Volunteer Chair

The CARTS program might be one of the lesser known functions on the AirVenture grounds, but for those it helps, it’s a godsend. It’s an obvious need, since the AirVenture grounds are massive and there are plenty of people who don’t get around as well as perhaps they once did. That’s where we come in – providing individual transportation for people seeking to get to a specific area.

When I began volunteering in 2008, we would pick up anyone who needed a ride. In 2012, after reviewing the data of those who we provided transportation and the needs on the grounds, we changed our mission to providing transportation to the elderly, disabled, and pilots who might be trying to get themselves and baggage from one place to another. In addition, we provide transportation to those who might need medical assistance or a quick trip to the emergency medical services area. Those calls have increased greatly over the past couple of years.

I began volunteering because I wanted to help with a job I could enjoy and see the entire grounds. That certainly has been the case. As these things usually work, after a couple of years I was asked to be co-chairman. In 2012, I became chairman of the CARTS program with Beth Mahlo as my co-chair.

I’m probably biased, but I truly believe I have the best volunteers at AirVenture. (OK, I know nearly every other area will say the same thing, but that’s good, isn’t it?) Our drivers totaled nearly 1,200 hours of service over eight days. Wow. Several of the CARTS drivers were volunteering well before I began with the group and together, we’re truly a family.

One thing that often occurs is that people who receive rides want to give us tips in gratitude for our work. For years, we declined them all, despite some folks being pretty insistent. We’re just as happy to provide the service regardless if someone offers a tip. But in 2013, we decided to use these opportunities for a good cause. So now, we let people know that every dime we receive in tips goes directly to the Young Eagles program. This year that meant about $6,000 going to help the next generation discover aviation, including one pilot who gave us $100! Mostly, though, we love meeting the people at Oshkosh, working with our fellow volunteers, and knowing that we did our part to make AirVenture more enjoyable for individual visitors.

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