This story originally ran in the October 2019 issue of EAA Sport Aviation.
Geoff Downey, EAA 105011, has been volunteering at AirVenture for nearly 30 years, with the vast majority of it as the rotorcraft chairman. He was recently announced as a 2019 EAA Volunteer of the Year. Over the years, Geoff has ceaselessly tried to improve the experience and safety for pilots and builders who attend AirVenture and the rotorcraft area. When Geoff learned he’d been selected as a Volunteer of the Year, he was in disbelief and responded with a polite, “You really need to double-check this!”
“After that, when it
became real, still not knowing the scope of this, I was honored and humbled to
even be considered,” Geoff said. “One reason this thought was so crazy is I’m
small potatoes, as I say, on the food chain of importance. When I was speaking
of this with a friend, I said with a smile I must have gotten some points on
how many clothes I have with EAA on them. My friend smiled and agreed.”
He said this award is
accepted on behalf of the rotorcraft team and all of the volunteers who get it
“I have the best people
in the world who get our flight operations done safely, along with all of the
great pilots who come each year,” he said.
As far as what brings
Geoff back every year, it’s primarily the camaraderie he feels with his fellow
“I guess everybody picks out their own reasons and why
they come back, but I think one of the stronger reasons is you see people from
all over the world that you only see once a year, so it’s really a homecoming
situation,” he said.
He said AirVenture is kind of like a family reunion or
get to see everybody again,” he said. “You will see stuff here you may
not see anywhere else. It’s a family place where kids can see the world of
aviation right in front of them. When one is volunteering here, it’s neat to
meet friends from all over the world you have met over the years that you see
again. It becomes an extended family gathering for many.”
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does —possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation is dedicated to thanking and shining the spotlight on volunteers from the community. Sadly, it cannot capture all of the thousands of volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a volunteer at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to thank them for it. It’s the least we can do. Do you know a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Volunteer Spotlight? Visit eaa.org/submissions.