Stories of Oshkosh — Nicole Pierce

By Nicole Pierce, EAA 559033

To celebrate 50 consecutive years of fly-in conventions in Oshkosh, we’re featuring stories of Oshkosh told by attendees remembering their special moments at EAA’s long-standing home. If you or someone you know would like to share your own story of Oshkosh, email

My name is Nicole Pierce, EAA 559033, and I have been coming to the EAA convention since I was 3 weeks old. I have not missed a year. I now have two children, 15 and 13, who have not missed a year either.

father started coming in 1975, I think. He volunteered in the workshops
(propellers and ribs) and with the communications group. My mother volunteered
for many years with the handicap tram, with our EAA chapter, then with camp
locator. She is now with EAA communications.

a child I remember camping where the security building in Camp Scholler is. We
were the campsite with the huge canvas circus tent. One year, my brother brought
his horse trailer to camp in, and my other brother brought his boat. The guards
at the front of Camp Scholler wondered if they were bringing the Cavalry and
the Navy.

favorite airplanes to watch were the Christen Eagles. I always enjoyed seeing
the Concorde come. That was an amazing plane to see take off.

1995 my dad carved a 60-foot propeller that used to hang out at the Main Gate entrance.
My mom was so shocked when she heard he was doing this. Luckily, friends of
ours did take pictures. For the next few years I had my picture taken under
that propeller (that tradition continues every year with my kids; it hangs at
the Communications Center facing the runway).

high school my father brought me up in early July to volunteer. I packed a fair
amount of clothes because he said I would be staying there for the month. I
volunteered in the EAA Wearhouse with Dorothy Hilbert, EJ White, and Joanie
Moder. Those were and are some awesome ladies to work with.

father thought the kitchen was open on the weekends. It was not. These three
ladies made sure I had lunch and dinner as our camper was not stocked with food
yet and I did not have a car. When dad came back up to Oshkosh a few days later
(maybe a week), I told him we needed to go to the store.

was a great summer, and I worked with an amazing crew in the Wearhouse. They
offered me a job for the following summer. For the next three summers I lived
in a trailer with no phone or internet (pre-2000). Those were some great
memories working in the Wearhouse under Kris Plummer and Cathy Como.

one of those summers my now husband worked at EAA, too. He spent the summer
working at the Air Academy Lodge as the janitor. He slept in a tent outside of
our camper for the summer. The cooks at the lodge took care of him, too,
offering him food for lunch.

2000 we lost my dad to cancer; however, my mother and sister and one brother
and I still come every year. We may not all stay the whole week, but we come. I
think for me it is a place I can feel my dad’s presence. It is also a family of
hard-working volunteers that have fun together.

past few years my kids and I have come a week early, and we help paint things
around the grounds, working with Jim the painter, Jane Taylor (from New
Jersey), Jacqueline (from Wisconsin), and Nancy Francke (from Wisconsin and a longtime
family friend).

Martin once asked me, “Nikki, I think your dad is looking down on you, and do
you think he is smiling knowing you are volunteering here?” I was sanding a
piece of wood at the time. I told him, “Jim, thank you, and I can feel him here.” This will be my 42nd convention
this year, and I look forward to seeing this “family” with all their quirkiness
and fun. I don’t come to the convention to learn to fly; I come to see
airplanes and enjoy this very large extended family we have.

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