Volunteer of the Year

The Art Morgan Volunteer of the Year Award

For many years at AirVenture, one individual would be selected each year as Volunteer of the Year – the person who most exemplified the cheerful dedication which is the heart of Vintage. Presenting this award, like awarding Lindys to our aircraft owners, is one of the culminating ceremonies of the Vintage year since our calendar does not operate from January 1 to January 1, but instead from Oshkosh to Oshkosh.

Volunteering is the backbone of Vintage. Because of our long-standing tradition of pitching in together, we have this amazing cadre of dedicated volunteers who work year-round and journey to Oshkosh each year to reunite with their extended family. Because of this we have become a world-wide association with only one full-time paid staff member. Quite a feat.

For many years this effort by our Board of Directors and AirVenture Chairmen was lead by Art Morgan, a long-time volunteer himself who served for many years as Flight Line Chairman and Vice President of Vintage. Upon Art’s untimely death in 1996, Art’s field call sign, “Antique One,” was retired and the decision was made to expand our award into two categories – Flight Line Volunteer of the Year and Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year – and rename the award The Art Morgan Volunteer of the Year Award.

2023 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Paula Gruizenga

My journey to Oshkosh is a two-part story. When I attended my first Oshkosh Convention, I was only one or two years old! By the time I was eight, my Mom had become tired of taking care of my three brothers and me while my Dad volunteered all day and we stopped attending.  I didn’t return until I was sixteen. My Mom and I came again to see what it was like. That year, I volunteered with my Dad at Classic Point for several days. I was hooked!

The next year I became more involved with volunteering, learning on “Dad’s Hip”.  As he had been the Point Manager at Classic point for years, I was able to learn much from him about what it took to run a point and how the Flightline functioned. One year, Wheeler North and Bob Perkins took me out to work on Classic Intersection, one of the more active on the field, and I have been volunteering there ever since. It was fun, as I was both working at the intersection and learning how to identify aircraft. My Dad also took the time to walk me around the Vintage airplanes, pointing out special features, teaching me what to look for to identify them. Wheeler and Bob would explain the concept of flying, their love for it, and encouraged me to pursue flying lessons.  

In the beginning years of volunteering, I was learning from the camaraderie at Classic Intersection.  It became more about learning the duties and responsibilities of the intersection, followed by a gradual transition to running the intersection myself. I was eventually teaching other volunteers, and watching their passion grow as they thrived and took over responsibilities of that area. That has been amazing to see and be a part of.

I am also often seen in the right seat of the Flightline Chairman’s VW, serving as his “right hand” assistant when I am not running Classic Intersection.

I look forward to coming back every year. I love seeing the faces of people that I see only once a year. Getting together with my Oshkosh Family is always an amazing part of being at Oshkosh. Working Classic intersection, with busy situations and having to make immediate decisions, is where I thrive. Watching the pilot’s faces smile the first time they hold up their destination signs with the look that says, “Whew, we made it!” and the joy of putting those smiles back on their faces brings me gratification.

2023 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Mary Wendorf

Submitted by Mary Knutson, VAA Red Barn Store Chairman

Mary Wendorf began volunteering with the Vintage Aircraft Association 10 years ago. Her husband Wayne, a long-time volunteer, encouraged her to attend work weekends and Mary was hooked! She has had a few roles including working in the volunteer kitchen and hospitality but over the years she has found her role in the Red Barn Vintage Store where she has been a co-chair for five years.

Mary is beloved by Vintage Red Barn Store customers, VAA members and fellow volunteers. She has a knack of making work enjoyable and dedication look easy. Countless hours are spent by Mary planning, prepping, selling during Airventure and taking down of the Red Barn store. The Red Barn Store is a hub for activity in the Vintage Village and Mary is the heart of it. Her generous spirit, infectious sense of fun, and her devotion to the VAA make her a most deserving volunteer of the year.


2022 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Michael Surls

Submitted by Patty Dorlac, Vintage Flight Line Co-Chairman

Michael Surls first came to Oshkosh in 1988 to see all the airplanes. He was an aspiring pilot, taking lessons at the time.  Michael got his pilot’s license because he’d signed up with Cessna for a “Sign up and win free flight lessons”. He won and took his flight lessons at the Kalamazoo Cessna Flight School.

The Surls family has volunteered with Vintage as well. His sons, Daniel and Will, both volunteered at Points Classic and Magoo. His wife, Deb, volunteered as a crossing guard and now serves as a volunteer with EAA Lifetime Member group.

Michael started to volunteer with Vintage in 1990. He comes back every year to volunteer because “All the planes I love are in Vintage.” He loves the antiques, radial engines and classic aircraft. “I love working Classic Point as it allows me to observe almost every aircraft at Airventure and I get to work with the best Volunteers in the world. It’s my home when I am working at Vintage.  I am very grateful to have been selected to be trained to be a Point Man by Dale Masters and Denny (Hot Rod) Gruizenga.”

Moving aircraft and working with volunteers is a big part of his job, but Michael also loves what he does behind the scenes. “I love seeing the planes, visiting with the people who bring their airplanes, asking what they plan to do during the week, and seeing how I can make their time at Oshkosh better. I want to help people have a great time while they are at Oshkosh. Whenever I see a need, I try to figure out a way to help.”

In addition to the countless hours he volunteers with Vintage, Michael arrives three weeks before the airshow to volunteer with South 40 Maintenance.  He helps maintain and service the 900 plus vehicles for all areas. He specializes in the VW Beetles we all see zooming around the grounds, and was responsible for getting a new engine for Antique Denver’s VW.  

Michael continues to come back because, “I love the Vintage Volunteers, airplanes and their pilots, parking the planes, and developing lifelong friends.” He looks forward to seeing these people each year and catching up with one another like family.”

2022 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Jim Brown

I first started volunteering some 28 years ago when a few of our chapter’s elders put plan out there for Toney’s Trolley (as it was first named). I was asked to volunteer for the welding on the handicap trailer since that is what I do. I also helped drive the tractor during AirVenture. After Florence Toneys passing, my partner Steve Betzler and myself were asked by the Vintage leadership if we would operate a custom transportation service for Vintage with a vehicle. There was a huge need to move people and luggage/camping gear etc. from one place to another during AirVenture. So that’s how the driving began and we’ve been doing it ever since.  We tweaked the name slightly from Toney’s Trolley to Tony’s Red Carpet Express.

I contacted Toney’s nephew Pete Bunce for some background on her and he had a lot to say. Toney gave him his first airplane ride. She inspired him his while life. He went on to become a Lt.Col. in the Airforce.  Pete is now the president of GAMA. To this day he thinks of her every time he flies.

Unfortunately I never knew Florence Toney . But the love everyone had that knew her was good enough for me.

2021 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Joe Harmison

Submitted by Patty Dorlac, Vintage Flight Line Co-Chairman

Joe Harmison travels from North Carolina to volunteer each year.  His first year was in 2013 when fellow Vintage volunteers, Steve and Susie Mersal offered to give him room and board if he would volunteer.

He was intrigued with riding scooters to park planes and, while he hadn’t intended to work the entire time, that’s exactly what he did!  He brought his dad, Ken, to come work with him in the Fondy area of Vintage the following year and his dad has been coming ever since.

Joe puts it like this, “Once you find your niche in Vintage, you just have to keep coming back!  The people and the friends bring us back every year. We even did Zoom meetings when we weren’t able to see each other for the extended break. We came for the airplanes but we come back for the people.”

2021 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Ron Brainard

Submitted by Patty Dorlac, Vintage Flight Line Co-Chairman

Ron hails from Iowa to volunteer with us and brings his wife, Yoko, another amazing Vintage asset! 1999 was the first year he started volunteering with us at Vintage.

Ron traveled with a friend that year, and this was the first time Ron had been back in quite a while.  He had previously volunteered with Communications.

A girl came by and asked Ron and his friend Bill Salyer what they were doing. “Why don’t you come park airplanes with Vintage?” she asked.  So they did.  Ron says, “We parked airplanes like crazy that year. They built the rows and we kept filling them with airplanes. After that, we just kept coming back.”

Ron has done just about everything on and around the Vintage flight line and enjoys it all.  He’s willing to do anything that he’s asked. Ron says, “I love the people. They are the biggest thing. They’re the best.”

2021 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Patti Hytry

Submitted by Pat Blake, Chairman- Operation Quench

Patricia Hytry (Patti, “Blush” on the radio) has been my right hand on Quench for the past 12 years.  Not a soul to draw attention to herself, she is the epitome of “behind the scenes”.

Arriving a full week prior to convention start, she cleans, sanitizes and organizes the jugs and coolers we use for Quench.

She is aware of the needs of the Flightline prior to organized arrivals/scheduled parkers, delivering water to them by her private car.

She is the labor behind the cucumber/sweet corn/cheese curd feed on Friday night, as well as the hamburger/brat and hot potato salad dinner sponsored by the Co-chair group on Saturday, but completely put together and served by Patti and her husband.

For these and all of the subsequent flightline dinners, she has purchased and premade lemonade (5 gallons at a time) as a refreshing alternative to Gatorade.

If anyone has enjoyed fresh cherries on the flightline, as everyone does every day of the convention, it is because she has purchased, cleaned and portioned them prior to our shift that day.

She is available for the 11 days Quench is active for any shift I ask her to work – even if it’s 8 am til 8 pm.

Patti has also been the volunteer that stays at least a day after the end of the official show to once again clean and store the jugs and coolers.

She and her husband Randy also consistently and predictably appear with all of the plates, napkins, utensils, and serving apparatus for not only the dinners they support, but all of the dinners served to the volunteers from Ops.  Attempts to reimburse them are typically brushed off.

While working on the Gator delivering food on the flightline, Patti is a cheerful and enthusiastic partner to me, always on the lookout for the volunteer standing in the hot sun, ready for food or water, not to mention the second set of eyes so important to safe maneuvering around moving people and aircraft.

I think her approximate hours worked surpass 80 hours for the duration.

I find her absolutely invaluable, and a pure pleasure to have spent my time with.  I’ve been thinking about this opportunity to nominate her for a while, as the above description has applied for every one of the last 12 years.

2019 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Liz Popp

To be honest I never had an interest in aviation until my husband (Tim) informed me he wanted to get his pilot’s license. That was in 1987. My first Oshkosh was 1988 and I really didn’t think I’d attend again. I skipped 1989 but haven’t missed a year since. In 1994 we purchased a 1958 Cessna 172. That July we flew the Cessna to Oshkosh and parked on the field in Vintage. I was hooked! We restored the Cessna and continued to fly it to Oshkosh for the next 20 years. The first few years I wandered the grounds and enjoyed my vacation. In 1998 I started volunteering with the Contemporary Judges doing their computer work.
Over the years I helped the Classic and Antique Judging groups as well and eventually took over all IT for the judges. The judge’s computer operations are currently located in our beautiful new Judges Headquarters Building. For a couple of years, before our new building was constructed, computer ops were located in the bathroom of a double wide trailer that housed the judges. Needless to say, I definitely moved up!

During this same period I worked with then Chief Judge Dave Clark to revitalize the Vintage Awards Ceremony program. Last year, in addition to working with the judges, I worked with Mary Knutson, Chairman of the Red Barn Store, selecting the merchandise and setting the new Vintage Red Barn store. Tim and I also try and attend as many Vintage work weekends as possible.

Volunteering at Oshkosh has allowed me to meet many wonderful people. There are many who volunteer for EAA but VAA has a very special group of volunteers. They are simply the best and we are a big family. Many of our close group of friends and fellow volunteers try and get together at different times throughout the year to visit and catch up. I’m truly honored to receive this award as there are so many other Vintage volunteers behind the scenes who deserve it just as much. They say it takes a village and Vintage has an amazing village. Thank you, I’m truly honored and blessed to be a part of VAA!

2019 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Alison Martin

Alison developed an interest in aviation through her husband Chip Davis, who she met in Blacksburg, VA in 1985. She began attending AirVenture in 1988 and hasn’t missed a year since. Starting in 1997 she began volunteering her time with Vintage, where she found a home in Flight Line Operations. She describes Flight Line Ops as a central point for communication and training, tracking flight line volunteer hours, and checking aircraft eligibility for parking in Vintage while coordinating with the “points” to keep parking operations running as smoothly as possible. She loves seeing the volunteers every day and considers the group to be a second family.

Alison and her husband are the proud owners of a 1960 model Cessna 172A that they’ve named “the Speeding Pullet”. They fly it to Oshkosh every year from their home in North Carolina.

2018 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Susan James 

I have had an interest in aviation since my teenage years. I first attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh with my husband, Archie, who is a longtime Vintage volunteer. Flying into Oshkosh on my first trip was absolutely amazing! The first few years, I enjoyed the air shows, forums, displays, and of course – those beautiful airplanes. Very quickly, I discovered the fun of volunteering, and meeting people from every corner of our country and world. With a simple question, “What brings you to Oshkosh?” I was mesmerized by each unique story.

My volunteer experiences have been varied. I have helped with spring work weekends, maintenance, type clubs, membership, and currently work with Earl Nicholas and Alex Gluhuskin in Computer Ops. My days are filled with assembling welcome packets, making the Vintage volunteer nametags, entering volunteer information in the database, and helping out where needed. I am grateful for the guidance and mentoring I have received from Earl, Alex, and so many others along the way.

Volunteering with Vintage has introduced me to some truly amazing and talented individuals. These people have become friends, brought joy to my life, and have become my “Oshkosh family.” We have fun together, and accomplish much to support EAA and the mission of Vintage Aircraft Association.

2018 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Bambi Miller

One of Bambi Miller’s earliest memories is watching her father going off to work by boarding a plane to fly into the Canadian bush to study caribou for a month at a time. That was when her fascination with flying started.

When she was 4, she got her first flight, in a de Havilland Beaver on floats. She threw up but loved the flight and the sensation of flying all the same, and determined she wanted to learn to fly someday.

Her parents were American wildlife biologists employed by the Canadian Wildlife Service. Most of her childhood was spent in northern Manitoba and Ontario. In high school her family moved to Idaho, where she graduated. She eventually settled in Lee, New Hampshire, where she raised her son and worked in land conservation and in special needs adult programs.

One of her four brothers flew for the Air Force and got her going on flying lessons through his friends at the Hampton, New Hampshire, airport. He said he would not let her fly with anyone who would not spin with her. Denise Hammel became her flight instructor, and he told her, “You were meant to flight.” She soloed the day John Kennedy Jr. died.

2017 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Alex “Spike” Gluhushkin

Alex “Spike” Gluhushkin first attended AirVenture as a 7-year old, thanks to his parents, Wendy and Sergei Gluhushkin.

His first year as a Vintage volunteer was 1999, and in 2010 he was promoted to vice chairman. In 2017 Alex celebrated his 18th consecutive year volunteering with Vintage Aircraft Association.

“When I was a little over 7 years old, my parents brought me to Oshkosh and exposed me to the world of AirVenture,” said Alex. “Over the years I gained interest in the organization and wanted to help out where a young kid could, so I began volunteering at KidVenture in 2001, helping repair control-line models and assisting wherever I was needed. While watching the show one day, I met my longtime friend Mike Carlson, who introduced me to Vintage. I then shadowed him for a year, learning the ropes and how to marshal aircraft. When I was of age and old enough to ride a scooter on the flightline, I did the training, hopped on a bike, and began to take to the field every day parking planes. There was always something to do and somewhere to help out.

“As time passed, I found myself interested in the computer side of things. I went from the field to computer operations and helped out Earl Nicholas with everyday odd jobs, and slowly showed my strengths in other areas, designing signs, fixing computers, setting up networks, making ID badges, and eventually creating the nametags each year for our hundreds of amazing Vintage volunteers. We then added video interviews with pilots who had just flown in, as well as segments for Interview Circle, which required numerous hours of editing and production time. Moving forward we had a vision to install video screens and push fresh content to them around the whole Vintage area, providing attendees with up-to-date schedules, events, and news of what’s happening in Vintage. This was a major task we tackled this year and hope to expand on in years to come.

“There’s something very special about Oshkosh and the people you only get to see once a year. Over the years I’ve made many friends, whom I still to this day camp with for the week, and we pick up right where we left off each year, continuing the tradition and making memories.”

2017 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Eric Roider

Erich Roider shares his story: “First off, I am not a pilot. I have an issue with the third dimension — altitude — but have been interested in flight since I was in grade school. One weekend my family went to this airplane museum in Hales Corners, Wisconsin — the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum — and I was hooked. In high school I was a member of EAA and Warbirds. (I know, but I was young and foolish at that time, and most warbirds are vintage aircraft anyway.) “I have been a member of Vintage Aircraft Association for about 20 years. I started volunteering when my soon-to-be father-in-law, Bob ‘Lumper’ Lumley, invited me to Oshkosh for a Saturday work party in 1998. “I have been married to my wife, Michelle, for 19 years and have a stepdaughter, Noelle. “Since the spring of 1998, I have worked on most of the buildings on the Vintage grounds … the Red Barn store, Tall Pines, Op Shack, the Vintage Hangar, the Vintage Library, the Volunteer and Membership kiosks, and the Video Shack, assisting with carpentry and electrical work. “The last couple of years during the fly-in, I have been video recording Vintage in Review with Ray and Judy Johnson and also doing video interviews on the field. Part of this job is to provide a copy of the interviews to the pilots after the interview. Many of the pilots are surprised to get a DVD copy of the interview within an hour or two after Vintage in Review ends. Ray Johnson was also surprised that this was able to be done. Once again my father-in-law volunteered/ drafted me for this job, and I have had a great time doing it. “During the convention we also take my father-in-law’s Model A Ford out onto the field and do what he calls a ‘biscuit run,’ handing warm biscuits to unsuspecting conventiongoers. It is great to see the looks on their faces and thank them for attending and possibly get an interview. “Most people will say that they volunteer because the organization is great or because the planes are cool, but in reality it all boils down to the people. The people are what make the organization great and are the reason I keep coming back to volunteer.”

2017 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Marcos “Taco Loco” Valdez

Marcos “Taco Loco” Valdez is from Fort Worth, Texas. His first year at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, his Luscombe was the first plane on the burn line. He asked how to volunteer, promptly jumped in with both feet, and hasn’t looked back! Marcos has volunteered 17 of the past 19 years. A captain upgrade and hangar-building are the only things that have prevented him from attending. Marcos is also a great recruiter for AirVenture! His wife, Natacha, has attended for 11 years, and the couple has been joined by his mom, dad, two cousins, and Natacha’s mom.

Asked about his favorite memory, Marcos responds, “We make amazing memories every single year. It’s hard to pick one favorite. The opportunity to feed our fellow volunteers through the Valdez Fajita Feed brings so much joy to my family as we share our culture with our friends at AirVenture. It’s a lot of work, but my family and I love this.”

He adds, “When we have challenging experiences, we have amazing opportunities to really pull together. I work with an awesome team — especially Tall Tom, who is like a brother to me, and Suzy, who is like a sister. I also appreciate greeting friends I see every year — not only fellow volunteers, but our guests. We build relationships over the years.”

As for what keeps him coming back, Marcos explains, “Everyone comes to Oshkosh for the mystique and uniqueness of all of the amazing aircraft, but after about three years you have seen it all — although I still see unique things every year. The people I see every year become friends that I see outside of Oshkosh.”

If you are wondering what you might get out of volunteering, Marcos encourages you to come on out! “You get to see the cool stuff, scooter around and see amazing aircraft, and build relationships that will last a lifetime.”

2017 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Suzy “Suzifer” Danielson

Suzy “Suzifer” Danielson of Denver has volunteered with Vintage for the past 15 years. She missed AirVenture only twice, while traveling to the large desert regions of Iraq and Afghanistan, where she flies her Blackhawk. Thank you, Suzy, for your service!

Her first year at AirVenture, Suzy came to work with her dad. Taking a break to walk around the grounds, she ran into some volunteers who encouraged her to try it out. Suzy liked the airplanes in Vintage, so she chose us! Her energy and professionalism, along with the energy she brings to the flightline, encourage other volunteers to join us … and they keep coming back. When you watch Suzy work, it’s obvious that the people and relation ships are what bring her back.

When asked about her favorite memory fromAirVenture, Suzy replies, “It is everybody getting together. We have our Magoo get-together where we talk about our day, sharing the things that have taken place and the planes and pilots we have seen. We enjoy our time together and the other fun rituals around our area. Mornings at Oshkosh start with the yodeler and our stretchhula at camp.”

Reflecting on memorable experiences, Suzy says it is more of a combination of this year and similar years past, like Sploshkosh. Demonstrating exceptional teamwork in challenging circumstances, all of our volunteers worked together to creatively pack in and move aircraft to get as many on the field as possible, living up to our motto, “We never close.”

Suzy enthusiastically recommends volunteering with Vintage. “Volunteering at Vintage is hard work, but you create long-lasting friendships and interact with our incredible Vintage pilots,” she says. “It is an experience you will never forget. At Vintage, you are no longer just a volunteer; you are part of a family.”

2016 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Rick Princell

Rick Princell is a longtime, active VAA volunteer and most of his contribution is behind the scenes. Rick has owned a Kolb Ultrastar, and he partially completed an Osprey GP-4 before selling it when his work life became busy. There will be more!

Rick is owner of GRP Contracting, Inc. of Plainfield, Indiana, where he is a custom cabinet and furniture maker. Though he’s quiet and humble, it’s been said that he can make anything out of wood.

He is married to Teri Princell, financial manager of GRP Contracting, Inc. His 20-year-old son, Tanner, is a private pilot and a sophomore at Purdue University in the Flight Management program. Tanner also is one of our VAA Youth Ambassadors and participated in the youth forum in the hangar this year.

Rick has custom-made all the display cabinets and counters in the VAA Red Barn hospitality area, display furniture for the Red Barn store, and the shelving that covers two walls of the VAA bookstore. He is “behind the scenes” because he makes all the items at his Plainfield shop, then brings them to Oshkosh in his large workshop trailer for installation.

We thank Rick for his continued efforts in making our VAA area at AirVenture a spectacular place for members and visiting guests!

2016 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Bob Perkins

In 2006, Bob and Barb Perkins told their neighbor, a Vintage volunteer named Margie, they were going to Oshkosh. Margie told them to be sure and volunteer with Vintage while there. They took her up on it — even though they only stayed for a couple of days — and have been coming back ever since.

Bob enjoys working at the intersection where he can watch everything right on the runway and see every type of flying vehicle. He still finds it amazing to be so close to so many different planes and see aircraft that some would never see. He says his best memory of Oshkosh was when the Concorde came in and he was so close to it that he could actually feel the vibration, adding he’s never been to any other place where one can have that experience.

Bob and Barb agree that the biggest challenge with volunteering is just getting to the air show with their 1939 Waco AGC-8. If it isn’t weather, it’s mechanical — and sometimes both! Bob says he enjoys the volunteers, camping and hanging out, going to dinner after a long day and sharing stories.

When asked what he would tell people who haven’t volunteered before, he said, “I don’t see why you wouldn’t volunteer. Just try it for a day and see the other side of things. Volunteers work very hard but they get to see things you wouldn’t see anywhere else on the field. Volunteers have a lot of fun, and you will meet people that you would not ordinarily meet and get to know people from all over the world.”

2015 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Ian Harvie

Some of our volunteers travel many miles to get here, but none of them travel more than our Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year, Ian Harvie. He travels 9,500 miles each way to volunteer and help us prepare for AirVenture. He is from Australia. He arrives the week before the convention and helps us distribute picnic tables, set up the Tall Pines Cafe, move things to the Aeromart, sweep the Vintage Hangar, paint, and anything else that needs to be done. He definitely has the VAA attitude of volunteering. We are proud to introduce Ian Harvie as the Behind the Scenes Volunteer for 2015.

2015  Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Jim Hornby

Jim Hornby, also known as “Antique Santa,” is a familiar face in Vintage. He started attending the EAA convention on a yearly basis in 1976 and started volunteering in 1978 with the Custom division. He was invited to volunteer in the Antique and Classic Division in 1979 and joined Vintage in 1984. Meeting new people and seeing a variety of airplanes are highlights of Jim’s volunteer time.

Jim has worked not only all over Vintage, but also in maintenance. Being a true “get ’er done” gentleman, Jim has worn many hats, including driving the tour tram, parking airplanes (of course!), helping with field preparation, driving our famous (or, infamous!?) taxi, repairing equipment, and coming out for work weekends to do maintenance on our facilities.

Like most of us, Jim returns each year to be a part of the family reunion with members from all over the world and because he enjoys doing things for people who appreciate the effort. Jim and his wife, Kathy, have added to that family reunion, bringing their children to AirVenture for their annual vacation for many years. Daughter Kris has been coming since she was in diapers and has been a constant volunteer at “Magoo,” son Kurt has recently started volunteering at the recharging station, and wife Kathy has been volunteering in operations, on the flightline, in the recharging station, and with maintenance on work weekends.

Thank you, Jim, for your years of dedication. . . and for bringing a little bit of the North Pole with you! Your taxi has brightened many a volunteer’s day. Congratulations!

2014 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Mary Knutson

Mary Knutson from Lodi, Wisconsin, is this year’s Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer of the Year. Mary, who has volunteered with Vintage for eight years, is also part of a dedicated Vintage volunteer family. Her husband, Dan, is a long-term volunteer, serving as a Vintage board member and currently treasurer of the association. This spring Mary stepped forward and accepted chairmanship of our Red Barn Store. On many spring weekends, as our maintenance team was giving the Red Barn Store a physical makeover, Mary and Dan spent numerous weekend hours ordering, planning, stocking, and displaying our new merchandise in the beautiful new store. Mary brings her years of professional apparel experience to our new store, which was highly successful during Oshkosh 2014.

2014 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Chris Haeffner

Chris Haeffner from St. Peters, Missouri, is this year’s Flight Line Volunteer of the Year. Chris has been volunteering with Vintage for 13 years, beginning as an airplane parker. Most of you won’t see Chris during convention week. For the past several years Chris has been a point manager at Point Fondy. Vintage operates four taxiway point buildings: Antique Point at show center, and then moving south in order we have Classic Point on the OPS taxiway, Point McGoo, and finally way down south Point Fondy (humorously named because pilots think they have been taxied to Fond du Lac). Chris and his wife, Cheryl, are a Vintage volunteer family team. Chris usually takes morning shifts and then is relieved by Cheryl so that they both can spend quality time with their children during convention week.

2013 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Judy & Ray Johnson

Ray and Judy Johnson from Marion, Indiana, each have three years of volunteering in the Vintage area. In 2012 they took over operation of and expanded the Vintage in Review at Interview Circle, showcasing not only amazing restorations, but also behind-the-scenes volunteers from a variety of little-recognized areas.

2013 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Ron & Margy Natalie

Ron and Margy Natalie from Herndon, Virginia, have a combined 35 years of volunteering in the Vintage area during Oshkosh. Ron has done just about every parking job. Margy is one of the Ops Building managers, deploying bikers and bikes along with checking plane registrations to make sure they meet the Vintage aircraft qualification. Ron and Margy also enjoy flying as much as volunteering, and when they aren’t enthusiastically assisting other Vintage members, they can be found at the controls of their beautiful Navion. Congratulations again on a job well done! (photo with Mike Kosta)

2012 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Wayne Wendorf

In 2005 Wayne Wendorf showed up for our April work weekend. Wayne is the assistant manager of buildings and grounds at Hamilton School District, Sussex, Wisconsin. The next year he helped design and build the canopy over the entranceway to the sales side of the Red Barn. In 2007, VAA decided to build the Tall Pines Cafe, and Wayne was there for every work weekend to help.

In 2008, we were asked to build an extension to the back of the sales area of the Red Barn. We could not expose the inside of the building to the weather. Wayne offered his advice as to how to accomplish this. He suggested getting the concrete poured first, building the outside walls and installing the roof, and then cutting out the old existing wall. He helped in the design process, and his suggestions worked perfectly.

At the end of AirVenture 2008, there was talk about building the Vintage Hangar for the type clubs and metal shaping. The building would be commercially built, and the Vintage volunteers would install the electrical and build four rooms: the volunteer center, the data processing office, the president’s office, and a conference room. Wayne said, “We can get it done.” He volunteered to be in charge of the construction, and Al Hallett volunteered to be in charge of installing the electrical service. In April the work started. Wayne and the other volunteers worked the three monthly work weekends and about six more weekends. In late June we were ready for AirVenture 2009.

Wayne is always ready to help. He is willing to work or to lead. He has volunteered almost 150 hours each year for the last five years. The Construction and Maintenance Committee, on which he volunteers, meets every month to plan and organize our work weekends for the following year.

Congratulations and thank you, Wayne. VAA is honored to recognize you as the Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer of the Year for 2012

2012 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Steve Glenn

Steve Glenn has been at AirVenture since 1988. He comes from Trussville, Alabama, with his wife, Esther, and their four children, ages 13, 10, 8, and 4. His story starts like a lot of other dedicated AirVenture attendees. His first trip was with his parents, he brought a girl the next time…married her…had four children (okay, so there the similarities end!), and he continues to come every year, bringing the entire family! Th e part I like best is where they saw the “Volunteer with Vintage” sign and joined us! Steve was first drawn to Vintage because he had always loved old planes. He says that he was in a “three-foot hover” after a day walking around the fl ightline. He continued to volunteer with Vintage because of the people he works with every year. His early years of camping were behind Sally’s Alley where the volunteers offi cially roped him in! Steve has worked with Randy Hytry at Point Fondy since day one. He has mastered parking large aircraft and riding the scooter over terrain that challenges a Tundra Cub. Whether he is parking planes or running point, Steve always has time to share a story or a joke, and his good humor has helped many of us through a long, hot day! Nicknamed “Antique Tower” because two pilots mistook his friendly gesture to continue down the taxiway as having been granted permission to take off …and even having one somewhat overwhelmed pilot land on his taxiway, Steve claims that events like these are a thing of the past. Needless to say, once you earn a nickname in Vintage, you never lose it! Steve says that he thinks the people in Vintage are the best people in the world—who put up with him no matter what. We are grateful that Steve continues to come to Oshkosh, dividing his vacation time between the family and the flightline. He now attends Oshkosh with Esther, their three boys and one daughter in tow, and relishes the wonderful tradition they have set—two weeks in a camper with the family, no TV or video games, just airplanes and friends and a chance to meet people from all over the world.

2011 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Pat Blake

Our Behind the Scenes award went to another longtime VAA volunteer. She stepped forward several years ago and took on the responsibility of keeping the many Vintage flightline volunteers watered and fed throughout each day of the weeklong event. Pat Blake is another one of those tireless volunteers who spends countless hours each day running up and down the line serving our volunteers not only food and beverages, but also her friendly personality and warm smile. You are greatly appreciated by all of our volunteers, Pat! Thanks for your service.

2011 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Dale Masters

This year’s Flight Line Volunteer of the Year was awarded to longtime VAA volunteer Dale Masters. Dale, your dedicated service to this organization is greatly appreciated, and you are very deserving of this recognition.

2010 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Tom Hildreth

If there ever was a volunteer who never says no to a request, that would be Tom Hildreth. Tom has been volunteering at school when he was a teacher, singing in his church, and “calling” square dances, his special love.

Over several years, Tom has done everything from electrical work (helper) to carpentry work (he recently helped put in new flooring in the judges’ trailers) to helping install air conditioners and many other tasks. During the most recent work parties, however, he has been proven to be the Michelangelo of VAA painters. He has put a brush to almost every “metal color” building on the landscape. We all wonder how he seems to get all of the paint on the buildings and none on himself; it’s uncanny.

During AirVenture, at the Tall Pines Cafe, he is the head cashier, VAA breakfast greeter, official head counter, and pancake historian. He remembers hundreds of our guests and never fails to inquire about their families and flying buddies. Tom also has been a frequent soloist during the religious services in the EAA Fergus Chapel during AirVenture. If you ask Tom to do something, you had better get out of his way; before you know it, he’s already on the job.

2010 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Bradford Payne

Bradford Payne is a longtime EAA volunteer who has been coming to AirVenture since 1971. A professional pilot since 1994, and a current United Air Lines pilot, Brad earned his pilot certificate in 1986. From the beginning it was his destiny to become the aviation guru he is. He grew up in Dayton, Ohio, just three blocks from the Wright brothers’ house, and his uncle was Orville’s paperboy!

For many years, Brad’s entire family attended EAA’s air show as a family vacation. Each of them has volunteered at EAA at some point. Brad and his brothers were particularly interested in the VAA, where they could ride the scooters! Bradford has been a flight line volunteer since 1984, and for volunteers who want to learn more about our aircraft, he teaches several aircraft identification classes during the fly-in. With his experience as a member of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, where he competed in aircraft recognition, Bradford truly is an expert in identifying and explaining the differences among the various aircraft, and he does an impressive job teaching others how to learn to identify aircraft as well. Bradford also creates an information sheet each year for every type club aircraft we will be parking in the Vintage area as well as special identification fliers to help every volunteer become familiar with the aircraft in our division. Brad is one of the volunteers who can wear any hat and work any of the positions on the flightline—and is willing to do so! He continues to add to the VAA membership. Before they married, he told Jennifer, his then future wife, “Oshkosh is a non-negotiable part of the relationship.” Jennifer has also become a vital part of our division, and by this summer, they will have added a total of two upcoming members to our organization, as they will welcome their second child! Brad loves airplanes but enjoys the company of all the other volunteers in the VAA. He feels like he fits right in because it is the one place his passion for aircraft is shared by so many others! He looks forward to attending every year. For him, it’s Christmas in July!

Congratulations, Bradford Payne, on receiving the annual Art Morgan Flight Line Volunteer of the Year award!

2009 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Michael Bloombach & Archie James

Our 2009 Behind the Scenes Volunteers of the Year are Michael Blombach and Archie James. The Indiana twosome oversaw the Vintage Hangar project and worked throughout the spring and summer to complete the hangar on time and under budget, which made it possible to enjoy the facility for the first time during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009. Our thanks to Mike and Archie for their above and beyond the call of duty volunteer spirit!

2009 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Jim Swol

Each year the Vintage Aircraft Association honors two of its own for their service to the VAA and its members during the annual convention. As it is every year, it’s tough to pick just one person for such an honor, but this year was especially challenging, as we had a fantastic group of volunteers step it up an extra notch during the months prior to this year’s amazing event, and during the convention. The Art Morgan VAA Flightline Volunteer of the Year comes to us all the way from the state of Maine. For years we have both marveled and worried at the willingness of the VAA flightline volunteers to keep going and do whatever was requested of them, and Jim Swol epitomizes that volunteer work ethic- always on the spot, doing what needs to be done, year after year.

Our sincere admiration and heartfelt thanks to Jim Swol for his hard work. Congratulations!

2008 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Wanda & Dave Clark

Dave and Wanda Clark of Plainfield, Indiana, the “peanut butter and jelly” couple (you always see them together!) of the Vintage Aircraft Association, are a multitalented pair. They were chosen as the 2008 Behind the Scenes Volunteers of the Year. Dave and Wanda are here working for EAA and VAA in Oshkosh almost as soon as the ice is out of the lake, and they’re here helping close out the convention site when the leaves are falling from the trees. Dave and Wanda, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at AirVenture this year, are often seen on the convention grounds with a pair of hammers or screwdrivers in their hands. Dave serves as the judging chairman for the VAA, the master of ceremonies for the awards ceremony, and as a judge in the Antique category. Both he and Wanda cook at the Tall Pines Cafe. If you enjoyed the French toast during this year’s convention, thank Wanda.

2008 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Wheeler North

Wheeler North of Carlsbad, California, was selected as the Art Morgan Flightline Volunteer of the Year for his dedicated service to the members who fly in and park their airplanes in the Vintage area. Wheeler, a lifelong resident of the San Diego area, has been a regular volunteer for more than two decades. His enthusiasm for aviation is in part thanks to his father, a renowned professor of environmental science, who used the family Cherokee to survey kelp beds in the Pacific Ocean. Wheeler flies an RV-6 in the San Diego area. During the convention Wheeler is recognized for his ability to work well with fellow volunteers and members alike and for his great sense of humor, including a wonderful ability to compose a great limerick!

2007 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Steve Moyer

Our 2007 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year is Steve Moyer of Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Steve seems to be everywhere during the AirVenture-helping out in the VAA data processing area, shooting photos for the volunteers and for Vintage Airplane, helping plan the annual VAA Volunteer Picnic, and generally lending a hand wherever it is needed.

2007 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Al Hallett

This year’s VAA Flightline Volunteer of the Year is AI Hallett of West Chicago, Illinois. One of our perennial volunteers who dedicates many hours of his vacation to shepherding the many vintage aircraft that park in our area each year, AI’s willingness to jump in wherever there is a gap is always appreciated.

2005 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Joanne Fox

This year’s Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year recipient is Joanne Fox, from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Joanne is known as one of our “secret weapons.” She can accomplish more logistical tasks in one hour than most of us can do in a full day. Congratulations!

2005 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- John Watts

We are pleased to announce that the “Vintage Flightline Volunteer of the Year” for 2005 is a fine gentleman from Sonoma, California, by the name of John Watts. John is the gentleman who is having way too much fun stopping traffic with his stop sign at the Classic Taxiway crossing in the Vintage area at each year’s event.

2004 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Paul Kyle

This year’s recipient of the Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year is Paul Kyle, of Germantown, Wisconsin. Paul has been attending EAA AirVen­ture with his father, Leland, since he was a young man, and started volunteering as soon as possible. He’s become a real “jack of all trades” and has been particularly active in the Tall Pines Cafe before heading off to work a shift on the flightline. He’s also been busy on many of the weekend work par­ties we have during the spring and fall, helping keep the VAA buildings in top shape.

2004 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Doug Martel

Our Flightline Volunteer of the Year is Doug Mar­tel, of Littleton, Colorado. In his “real life” Doug is a cardiologist, and he really looks forward to spending a week away from it all and working the flightline, directing and parking vintage airplanes in our area. Doug so enjoys his time on the line that there are times when it’s hard to get him to quit at the end of his shift!

2003 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Steve Peters

Steve Peters, Columbia City, Indiana is the recipient of the VAA Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year award. In addition to his work during the day, Steve can also be seen (and heard on the radio!) during most of the overnight hours, as he helps VAA Security ensure everyone stays safe and secure.

2003 Flight Line Volunteer of the Year- Dyle Wilson

Dyle Wilson, Trenton, Missouri, is the Flightline Volunteer of the Year. Dyle has been a volunteer for more than a decade, most of that time spent in helping EAA and VAA members park their aircraft in show plane parking and camping.

2002 Meritorious Service Award- Craig Baumgardner & Clair Dahl 

Clair and Craig were key volunteers for the launch of the VAA Tall Pines Café, which served more than 2,500 breakfasts during AirVenture 2002.

2002 Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year- Sandra Perlman 

2002 Flightline Volunteer of the Year- Thomas Taylor

No write ups available at this time

2001 Larry Krengel & Slim Caselman – Volunteers of the Year

No write ups available at this time

2000 Tim Fox & Dennis Lange – Volunteers of the Year

No write ups available at this time

1999 Dave Thomas- Flight Line Volunteer of the Year

1999 Dave Morrow- Operations Volunteer of the Year

1999 Dave Clark- Operations Volunteer of the Year

Our congratulations to Dave Thomas, VAA Flight Line volunteer of the year, and Operations Volunteers of the year Dave Morrow and Dave Clark. Honored for their commitment to the Association during EAA AirVenture, each was presented with an engraved plaque to commemorate their dedication. Dave Thomas was unable to attend the presentation during the Fall Board of Directors meeting in Oshkosh, so Phil Blake stepped up to accept the award. Dave’s presence on the flight line day in and day out in the heat and in the cold for many years has earned him the gratitude of many members. Dave Morrow and Dave Clark (dubbed the D2 team by Dale Gustafson) have served the membership over 15 years as aircraft judges.

1998 Bill Carlson & John Osborn – Volunteers of the Year

No write ups available at this time

1997 Earl Nicholas- Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year

1997 Randy Hytry- Flight Line Volunteer of the Year

In ceremonies held during the fall Board of Directors meeting, our two individuals selected as the “Volunteers of the Year” were presented with their recognitions plaques. Earl Nicholas, our “Behind the Scenes Volunteer of the Year,” was honored for his work with the A/ C Aerogram, and Randy Hytry was recognized as our “Flightllne Volunteer of the Year.” Congratulations to both men!

1996 Georgia Schneider- Art Morgan Volunteer of the Year

Georgia Schneider, an 8-year A/C volunteer, was the “Back Stage” Art Morgan Volunteer of the Year award recipient. Georgia lends her time and talents to the AlC Red barn Sales area.

1996 Kathy McGurran- Flight Line Volunteer of the Year

The Flight Line Art Morgan Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Kathy McGurran, Aurora, CO for her work at A/C Point, helping the endless stream of A/C airplanes find a spot to park.

1976 – 1995 Volunteers of the Year


1995 Phil Blake & Sarah Marcy

1994 Dennis Gruizenga & Sue Eichmann

1993 Mike Kosta

1992 Don Straughn

1991 Trish Dorlac

1990 Reinhart O. Kuntz

1989 Bob Majka

1988 Cheryl Harrison

1987 Geoff Robison

1986 Dick Doughty

1985 Dani Sandlin

1981 Mike Casey

1979 Judy & Tony Merkel

1978 Dick Walling

1977 Hugh P. Harrison, Mary Morris, & Bob Wallace

1976 Jeff Copeland