E.A.A. Airventure volunteers down in the Ultralight and Light Sport Aircraft area.

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Airventure volunteers at E.A.A. Airventure Light Sport Aircraft area.

People arriving for Airventure whether by, plane, automobile, motor home, or motorcycle are involved in only the parts of Airventure they want to be involved in.

If they are just coming for the day they will be directed on entering the grounds to parking. From there to the admission turnstiles, and then into the areas they want to visit by following the signs or reading the directional information given to them.

Few will get to see the underling organization that works year round at making the show run smoothly, from the time they enter Airventure until they leave. There are literally thousands of people involved in the day to day operations of preparing for the show.

But there is also a group of individuals that the general public does see on a day to day basis and that is the volunteers. Since it's inception in the early 80's the Ultralight and Light Sport Aircraft area of Airventure has been one of the fastest growing areas of the show. This has necessitated the moving of the area several times to it's present location at the south end of the airshow nearly a mile from the main entrance.

This growth and expanded interest has also meant the need for more and more volunteers to fill the new ventures taken on by the executives of the "down on the farm" ultralight and light sport aircraft area.Airventure John Moody camp ground area.

One of the first expansions after the acquisition of a permanent location was the "John Moody" camp ground which is named after what many consider to be the father of ultralight aviation John Moody.

The campground is located on the southerly boundary of the area and is run by a husband and wife team that give up 10 days of their summer to organize and run the campground.

The next group of volunteers one is likely to come in contact with are the women who operate from the "Ultralight Barn." This is the heart of the ultralight and light sport aircraft operation.

These volunteers begin work before anyone else on the farm. When pilots and volunteers show up for their six a.m. briefings the coffee is already on and brewing and the donuts are ready.

Frank Beagle announcer at Airventure 2005.From six a.m. until closing they answer questions, direct enquires, sell merchandise, and act as ambassadors for the sport.

But you know the amazing part about it - these women (I don't recall seeing any men) do it in such a way that no matter how stupid your question seems, or how busy they are, the treatment you receive from them is as if you were the most important person at the convention!

Whether you are a well know "legend in your own mind," or some guy that's waiting for his wife to get out of  the Bingo Hall - their focus and attention is YOU- no strings attached, no hand out for money, just friendly, knowledgeable, understanding, individuals there to help you out.Deb Hayden Co-Chairman of volunteers for Ultralight and Light Sport Aircraft.

Pilots wishing to fly at the show during the allotted times will then meet the volunteers who give the flight briefing. This includes Doppler weather radar, the route to fly, how high to fly, what to do incase of an emergency, how to enter and leave the pattern and what the flags mean.

As the briefing is going on Frank Beagle will usually be heard warming up his voice on the announcers stand. Frank and Mark will start each day just as the sun comes up and other than a break during the airshow will be on the stand as the sun sets.

The person responsible for finding the volunteers for the flight line and delegating when and where they will be used falls to Deb Hayden.

Deb has been working with EAA as a volunteer for over ten years now and for the last two years has been the Ultralight and Light Aircraft Volunteer Coordinator.

During the operations of the Ultralight and Light Aircraft flight line Deb will have a minimum of eight volunteers, and eight to twelve Civil Air Patrol volunteers working the line.

From the volunteers at the "Shack" centrally located on the edge of the runwayEAA volunteers many the flight line tower at Airventure. younger volunteers like Deb's daughter Allison get their start by answering questions from spectators.

(Volunteers under 16 are not permitted to work the flight line, but are permitted in the "Shack.")

Others include "the spotters" for flight services who take up their perches in the tower. They are their every day of the show from sun up till sun down. Their job is to count the number of take offs and landings and monitor traffic in the area and on the ground.

They are the eyes and ears of flight operations, from their loft high above the crowd they are continually scanning the air and ground for problems, and relaying necessary information to ground personnel, and the flag man.

EAA volunteers maning the fuel depot at Airventure.They also operate the flag system which gives the green flag for flying, red flag for runway closed and up and down yellow arrow flags for the beginning and end of flying sessions.

When you consider that on several days there were more take offs and landings done than at one of the busiest airports in the world you can understand the importance their role plays in the safe operation of the ultralight and light sport plane area.

But pilots can't get their planes into the air without fuel. For safety a fuel depot has been added to the ultralight and light sport section of Airventure.

Here pilots can either purchase fuel or leave their fuel can there. All fueling is done in a restricted and controlled area, again manned by volunteers.

Once fueled pilots are then directed to the staging area where the flag man ensures that no one is approaching to land, and that any departing craft have cleared the runway, and then stages them for take off. He will also direct pilots to abort landings or do go arounds when traffic is backed up or an emergency exists.

Flight Line flagman, Civil Air Patrol and volunteers maning the flight line at Airventure.The Civil Air Patrol works the area in squadrons, rotating in and out every two hours or so from other areas of the show.

They man the flight line gates, direct taxiing aircraft from point A to B in the staging area. They also chaperone media people keeping a watchful eye out for them for aircraft and dangerous situations.

The CAPS are a group of young men and women who have undergone special training to aid in events such as Airventure.

The group at Airventure this year was from over forty two areas of the U.S. including Hawaii and Porto Rico. Some of their training includes how to direct traffic, dealing with incursions onto the runway and crowd control. The CAPS begin their work at six a.m. and work through till 8 o'clock at night.

According to Deb some fifty to sixty people volunteer their time each year in this section. Some will volunteer for the whole week, others for a couple of days, while others drop in for an hour here and there during the busier times.

"These people are lawyers, teachers, nurses, construction workers, dishwashers, cooks." No special experience is necessary, and you can be male or female of any nationality or from any country.

So if you have some time to spare next year at Airventure drop in to the "Barn" or the "Shack" and sign up to spend some time helping run the lighter side of the largest airshow in the world.

For more information on the CAP group at Airventure - Click here!

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Volunteers Civil Air Patrol

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