Stories of Oshkosh — Joe Norris

By Joe Norris, EAA Lifetime 113615

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.

A family friend, Jim Miles, introduced me to EAA at
the 1970 convention in Oshkosh. Jim, EAA 158, asked if I wanted to go to the
convention with him in his Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser. I jumped at the chance.
We camped under the wing of the Super Cruiser for a few nights and spent the
days looking at and talking about airplanes. Jim introduced me to Paul
Poberezny, Gene Soucy, Duane Cole, and Curtis Pitts. To say I was hooked would
be the understatement of the century!

I joined EAA in 1976 and attended the convention again
in 1977 and each year thereafter. That makes 42 straight years! Some years I
flew to the convention and other years I drove. I would usually camp, but even
if my schedule wouldn’t allow me to spend multiple days in a row, I could still
drive over for the day as we lived not far away in central Wisconsin.

I started volunteering in 1978, which really set the hook for me. Over the years, I’ve helped out with flightline operations, main gate, flightline security, as well as in the International Aerobatic Club and Vintage areas. In 2001, I was lucky enough to get hired at EAA, and for the next 10 years I saw the convention as an EAA employee.

I left EAA in 2011, which gave me the opportunity to
see the convention from yet another angle — that of a vendor! I went to work
for Sonex Aircraft and worked their display each year until I finally returned
to EAA as an employee in 2017. Now I’m back to seeing the convention as an EAA
employee again.

So I have seen the convention from all angles — attendee,
volunteer, employee, and vendor. I’ve seen the convention grow from just some
tents in 1970 to the amazing facility that we enjoy today. Each year has been a
wonderful experience and I look forward to many more conventions to come!

you or someone you know would like to share your own Story of Oshkosh, email

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