Unedited copy as submitted for the July 25, 2002 issue of Airventure Today.
Around the Field
by Jack Hodgson

More Trailblazers, Gary the Tool Guy, and Breakfast by the Ultralights

Row 63 (aka 563) is the annual gathering spot for some flying friends from Jackson, Mississippi.

Don Stitman and Henry Aldridge arrived in Don's 1985 Maul. John Mosley's 1976 C182 is parked in the next spot over.

All three agree that the fly-in is a lot bigger now than when they first started coming. Don is here for his 4th EAA AirVenture, John has been coming since 93, and Henry is the Oshkosh veteran of the group, who first came in 1983.

They enjoy returning each year because you get to spend time with people who like the same things that you do.

Don says, "I also really enjoy waking up to the sounds of the Warbirds at 5:30 am."

One of their favorite fly-in memories is when one of the planes they were travelling with had to make a forced landing in a field near Oshkosh. "We circled overhead until we saw he was OK, then we continued in." The friend left the plane in the field and continued on to Oshkosh as well.

Henry is from Hawkins Field in Jackson. It is an old field that was turned into a military field during WWII, then back to civilian. They take great pride in the fact that Lindbergh visited there many times, including landing there during his tour after the trans-Atlantic flight.

Way down at the south end of the airport, Gary Nelson and Glen Walker have arrived to their first AirVenture. Gary is a high-time CFI who has owned many planes over the years. "A 140, a 182, a Molt Taylor Coot, a few others. It's hard to say which one was my favorite because you like each one for different reasons. But maybe the 140 was a favorite."

Gary and Glen are from Port Orchard, Washington and fly out of Bremerton National Airport.

Glen is learning how to fly. He hasn't soloed yet, "but I got a lot of stick-time on the trip out here. I also learned a lot of navigation." He's especially looking forward to seeing the Warbirds.

Both men have attended the EAA Arlington fly-in for many years. They came to AirVenture in Gary's Avid Magnum. He finished building it in Oct 2000. "It took me two years and eight months to build. But I like to say that I spent 8 months building, and two years looking for my tools. I tend to put things down and then can't find them." He looks fondly at the Magnum fuselage. "There's probably tools in there now."

John Berendt is one of the Chairmen of the new Tall Pines Cafˇ, a breakfast-only operation, which is being run by the Vintage Aircraft Association this year for the first time. The cafˇ is located just south of the Ultralight field near the South 40 camping area.

This is John's 30th year at the fly-in. He's from Cannon Falls, Minnesota and has been volunteering at the fly-on for 27 years, which is how long he's been a member of Vintage.

Over the years John has helped out in many areas of the Vintage fly-in such as Forums, but mostly he's done logistics for all parts of the group. He collects and distributes equipment and materials for all the VAA's fly-in projects. "Basically someone tells me they need something, and I go out and find it."

This year he and fellow volunteer Steve Nessee are riding herd on the new breakfast operation.

"Last fall we started talking about setting up a breakfast place down here. We weren't sure how well it would do but we decided to give it a try."

The Cafˇ is staffed completely with volunteers. Some fairly senior Vintage folks, like Directors, Chairs and Judges, are down there each morning preparing and serving meals.

Although the Cafˇ opens at 6:30 am, the crew starts at 4:30 when they fire up the grills and put on the coffee. Between 12 and 15 Vintage volunteers work there daily.

So far the Cafˇ has been a big hit. It's been crowded each day. One morning some early rising fly-in attendees showed up for breakfast at 5am. The organizers are already looking forward to improving and expanding it next year.

The Voices of EAA AirVenture:

You really need to get some of the 50 sunscreen, it's a lot better... You're never alone at Oshkosh. It's an extended family of 300,000... It's so nice to see so many individuals who share the same interests in aviation... We had a request for joining steel to aluminum, like on a Citabria... They had 19 Mustangs. They had them all pulled up in front of everybody with the props going and everything. Pretty cool!... Oooh aaaah...

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