Last night I was working my volunteer shift at Oshkosh AirVenture 2014. I was stationed at register 78 at the South Admissions Gate. I had an hour training and since the associated systems are geared toward volunteers, I was processing entry tickets and wristbands and the like like a pro. I have to admit that it felt good to give back to the aviation community this way. Next year I am going to work a couple shifts instead of just one.
One of the things that made me feel at ease was the friendliness of everyone: the EAA staff, the volunteers, even 99% of the customers were all very pleasant. People were smiling. My shyness was immediately disarmed. It was great to be around so many folks in the General Aviation community.
While at my station, three gentlemen walked up. After a few moments of conversation, it was determined that it was a grandad, dad and son. They had flown in from Tennessee and had flown into Oshkosh in their Cessna 172 for the day. Aside from a tent that they kept in their airplane, they were not prepared to spend the night, however, Flight Service was recommending against departure to wherever they were going due to stormy weather in the area. Their 172 was parked in a “no camping zone” on the grounds and they had no way to get anywhere. They were looking for a ride to one of the many massive camping areas at AirVenture. They were going to pitch the tent and just sleep in it; no sleeping bags, no change of clothes, no toothbrush.
The conversation involved more and more people as it went on. Options were discussed, predicaments were rehashed. Finally, a volunteer that lives locally chimed in.
“Why don’t the three of you stay at our house tonight.”
Now, she’d never met these gentlemen before. She just knew that fellow aviators needed a little help and she simply offered them a place to stay. The guys resisted in a very southern-gentlemenly type way. She insisted, so they thanked her and offered her the same if she ever got to Nashville, where they lived. It turns out she had never been to Nashville before but she would love to visit some time, it had just been out of her budget. She was delighted.
As a kid I had seen that type of exchange before with other pilot clubs and while I’m most certain that this type of generosity is not confined to the likes of aviators, it was her gesture that reminded me of just how wonderful to General Aviation community can be to one another.