By Ruth Gallatin-Bock, EAA 340695
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
raised by founding member Harold Gallatin, EAA 20. My sisters and I spent our
Sundays at Hales Corners Airport watching our dad’s friends take off and land
for many years. I always loved flying, but was the youngest of three girls, so
flying for me did not come until later in life. I soloed in 1997 at Timmerman Field,
but was unable to finish my training as the extra medical tests every two years
became too expensive for me.
and I helped fold newsletters in Paul Poberezny’s basement office. As a
teenager, I helped level the land for the first museum in Hales Corners and
spent summer days keeping the membership renewals up to date. Membership was on
an index card at the time. I guess you could say I was Dad’s shadow — when he
went to EAA, so did I.
As a preteen,
I helped my mother register airplanes as they arrived. I remember cheering when
the 100th homebuilt arrived the last day of the Rockford fly-in. As a teenager,
until the Oshkosh Sky Shop had four walls, I was the sales girl, display
manager, and cashier for EAA’s souvenir tent — sometimes other teens would join
one of the first five men who gathered at Carl Schultz’s kitchen table and
talked about how a club of homebuilders with common interests and skills might
get “aviation out of the doldrums”. Dad was also a director for more than eight
years. Paul went off to Korea for a while, but when he returned, he gathered
those same men and the rest is history.
before EAA started, Dad was on the roof of the hangar he was building and a kid
kept hanging around and asking so many questions about flying, that he was
having a hard time getting his hangar finished. So, he suggested to this young
man that if he was so interested, then he should learn by doing. So, Dad gave
Paul his plans for a Corben Baby Ace. Their friendship began there and grew to
a lifetime of respect for each other.
know what Dad’s specific input was into early planning for the early EAA fly-in
conventions. I know we were at the first fly-in at Timmerman Field from sunup to sundown that
weekend. Rockford was the time of Dad’s directorship and he was more involved
in its planning. The plane raffle, camping, shower buildings, and wake-up
“buzz” started then. As EAA started to become financially successful, he was
proud of how it was growing and sharing the how-tos he felt were so important.
I remember him talking about the move to Oshkosh as exciting and great for the future of EAA. Dad worked long hours every weekend creating roads, many of them in Paul’s Woods. He built picnic tables, and kept tractors and other machinery running at maintenance. Both of my parents served as ambassadors or greeters for the White Farm House. The White Farm House was used for foreign visitors, sometimes for dignitaries. He also had displays of engines that would advance sport aviation. He could often be found by his trailer across from the Red Barn displaying those engines. He had a Wankel engine, Vaporphase cooling system, and a Pobjoy Special replica that is now at Pioneer Airport.
memory of the first fly-in was a ride on the trailer bed picking up the left
behind tiedowns. The ride across the bumpy field made the bunch of kids I was
with laugh and giggle. I was part of the reason EAA is now so clean all the
time. Paul and Dad were tired of us kids hanging around, so Paul handed us a
stick with a nail on the end and told us to keep the airport clean. A precedent
was set for future generations.
said his favorite memory was the year they recognized the first 100 members. They
took a group picture that year. He treasured that — those were all close
friends. Dad died in 2001; I went back two years afterward and it was just too
hard. EAA was my childhood vacation, hobby, and dream. I attend when my health
allows; I am now 73 years old. I try to go now for a day, but no more camping.