Unedited copy as submitted for the Jul 28, 2003 issue of Airventure Today.
Around the Field
by Jack Hodgson
John Vasos is attending his first ever AirVenture Oshkosh. He first learned to fly in the late 60s when he was 18. "Me and my buddy decided we wanted to be bush pilots in Alaska."

So for $7 an hour in a Cessna 150, and another $5 for an instructor, John managed to solo in about 15 hrs. He had a few flying adventures back then, but financial reality eventually forced him to quit flying.

In 1975 he added another 30 hours to his logbook. He flew a Grumman Cheetah, some 172s, and got some more 150 time. But once again, life intervened and he had to leave it behind.

A few months ago the EAA Ford Trimotor was touring the country and stopped in Pontiac Michigan where John works for Ford. He treated his kids, and himself, to a ride and was bitten by the bug again.

"I can do this," he thought as he sat looking up into the cockpit.

John became a member of EAA Chapter 13 at Ray Airport, near his home in Romeo Michigan. He and his family adjusted their plans to spend part of their annual camping vacation here at AirVenture, which is what brings them to Camp Scholler.

He's here with his wife Beverly, and their two kids Natalie, 14, and Brandon, 17. Of the two kids, Natalie is the most interested in flying, and is really looking forward to the week here.

John has his eye on a 140 to resume his flying. "I really like the taildraggers."

Mike and Ed drove to AirVenture 2003 from Los Angeles California. "2100 mile." They declare proudly.

They're members of the A&E Flying Club at Hawthorne Airport in Hawthorne, California. It's a small world, because I spoke to Ed last summer when he told me about how their club's president precipitated the resolution of the airport closure controversy by getting elected to the city council.

This year Ed is here with AirVenture first-timer Mike Bruck.

They had planned to fly out this year in the club's Hawk XP. But it had just gotten a new engine, "and we didn't want to be testing it out over the Rockies."

Ed and Mike are part of a contingent of about 10 members from the A&E club that are here at AirVenture. The club has 50 members.

Mike recently bought an Aircoupe which is fully IFR equipped. "They upgraded the engine to a 100 hp Continental O-200. I think it was mostly to lift all the electronic they added."

Mike's been flying for 35 years, "off and on" but has recently gotten serious about it. "When you turn 50... if you've got some stuff that you really want to do, you do it."

Mike's joined EAA Chapter 11 at Santa Monica Airport, and in addition to the Aircoupe, he's building a Mitchell U2 Super Wing motor glider.

The interesting thing about building the Mitchell is that he's doing it, at least part of it, aboard the 35 foot Cris Craft sailboat he lives on.

Asked what he's expecting from his first AirVenture, "Everything," he says, "and it will be more than that I expect."

There's an interesting story behind Chris and Gary DeBraun's Acroduster.

"We bought it here at AirVenture 5 years ago," she says. "It was a wreck, we only paid $2,000 for it."

They bought it in the AeroMart. That was the year that the Mart moved to its current location. As they approached the new spot they saw this wrecked plane and recognized it as a classic. "I bought it on the spot," she says.

She was right, this airframe was Acroduster #1. The original prototype. Over the next 9 months they worked to restore it. "I worked from 10am to midnight, seven days a week, for five months," she says.

Half of each of the biplane's wings were "splinters". "And there are no plans available for this plane," she says, "so I had to use the surviving half-wings as models to build replacements."

Chris is no stranger to flying. She's a 27 year veteran of the Air Force Reserve. As Master Sargent DeBraun she's a C5 loadmaster. She's currently called to active duty and has been flying cargo missions to Kuwait. She'll leave AirVenture early this year, on Thursday, and return to her unit at Travis Air Force base where she'll likely head back to Kuwait.

She and her husband Gary are long-time AirVenture attendees. They spent their honeymoon here in 1973. They currently make their home in Lakeville, Minnesota, about 15 miles south of Minneapolis. Their home field is Airlake Airport.

By the way, Chris's other airplane is a C170 and if you ask to see a picture of it she'll pull back the shoulder of her t-shirt and show you the tattoo on the back of her right shoulder.