Unedited copy as submitted for the Aug 3, 2003 issue of Airventure Today.
Around the Field
by Jack Hodgson

Distant friends who meet at AirVenture, and residents of the last row.

David Novak is from Hortonville, Wisconsin and Ron Donner is from Northfield, Minnesota. They live a great distance apart and yet are the best of friends.

They met in 1974 when the were both attending A&P school at the same time. The friendship that was born back then is reinforced each year here at AirVenture.

This year they joined forces to fly to AirVenture in David's newly purchased Skyote homebuilt. The plane only has one seat so they need to alternate flying the plane. When coming to this year's fly-in they flipped a coin, "and I won!" crows David.

Ron got to drive the car here carrying the camping gear and supplies.

The Skyote was designed and built by Edward Harrier in Pennsylvania, and had its first flight in 1996. It was purchased in the past year by David after Harrier's death. David thinks that the Skyote is "the perfect flying-machine."

"It's perfect because, first, it's a biplane," says David. "It's single-seat. So you share that with just you and the plane. It's very sensational."

"It's a dream to fly," agrees Ron.

David came to his first AirVenture in 1973 and has made it here every year since. Ron's first was 1972, but he did miss a couple over the years.

When Ron came to his first AirVenture he brought his Dad. They flew in in Ron's 1949 Piper Clipper. His dad is now in his mid-70s and unable to attend the fly-in.

"My Dad was never a pilot, but he did a lot of flying with me. He has always been very supportive."

David's first AirVenture experience after arriving was to just think, "Airplanes!"

David's home airport is, "'Rocket City Airport' which happens to be my backyard."

Ron's home field is Stanton Airfield, which is the home of the Minnesota Soaring Club. He's involved with a small FBO on the field that has three Cubs, and teaches tail-wheel flying. Stanton was a WWII primary flight training base.

Both Ron and David also own Luscombes. David's is a 1939 model, and Ron's is 1946. David also has a Casper Wing Ultralight. He shares his private field with a neighbor who co-owns it. The neighbor has a Skypup ultralight and is building a Pitts.

David is usually here for the entire week of AirVenture. He enjoys all it's moods. For example he looks forward to the quiet of the final Monday. Some years he will fly home on Sunday and return by car the next day with one of his grandchildren.

"I like it because it's quiet and relaxing. You have a chance to see a few more things, and do some last minute shopping."

Some say it's a badge of honor, some say, not so much.

One of the folks who ended up parked in Row 159, the most distant parking row, was Victor Grahn of Muskegan, Wisconsin. Row 159 is more than half-a-mile south of the runway 36 numbers.

Victor has been attending the EAA fly-in since 1967 during the Rockford era.

"Obviously the show has gotten really big since then," he says. "But they are doing the right things for aviation in general."

Victor flew in this year in his 1947 Cessna 120. The 120 has been in the family for many years. His dad bought it in 1965. His brother flew it to the Rockford fly-in in '67. Victor got the plane in 1991.

In 1991 the 120 was totally wrecked in a windstorm. Since then it's been completely rebuilt, and it now has a stunning yellow and blue paint job.

"My dad always used to say, anytime the plane didn't work, 'your airplane needs to be fixed,' but when it was OK it was his."

After the '91 repairs, Victor just kept it for good.

Victor is a member of EAA Chapter 585 of Watervliet, Michigan. "They are an older chapter enjoying each other's company alot." The Chapter is currently building a Flybaby as a group project.

Victor is here at AirVenture 2003 as part of a group of four people from Muskegan Airport. The other three drove here and he heads over in the evening to spend the night at the Camp Scholler campsite.

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