When visitors enter the EAA Aviation Museum, they are greeted by the warm face of one of our proud docents, each with an amazing story of why they are there. One such docent is John Mellberg, EAA 109395. John has been volunteering as a docent at the museum since 2015 greeting visitors, providing information, and occasionally giving presentations.
John has been a wealth of information to EAA and has given wonderful presentations on some of his most passionate subjects, the Bugatti and Graf Zeppelin. John has even donated several items to EAA’s library and museum.
John contributed a number of items to the EAA Aviation Museum’s Zeppelin exhibit including a newly restored 1-to-36 scale “giant miniature” of the D-LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II that he built himself over a 17-year period and the 1-to-250 scale model of the “original” D-LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin, plus newly donated Zeppelin artifacts, including Zeppelin china, flown on both of the Graf Zeppelins and two rare Baitz dolls that flew around the world on the Graf Zeppelin’s 1929 flight.
The Zeppelin exhibit is beautifully positioned near the front entrance in the museum along the upper promenade where the Graf Zeppelin II model can be viewed close up and from below, as well as on the ground floor where it can be seen from across the museum proper. In addition to John’s valued contributions to the Zeppelin exhibit, he’s also donated several items in relation to EAA’s 1938 Bugatti Model 100 racer, including an extremely rare set of blueprints that John got from the family of a Bugatti collector in the United Kingdom.
John said being part of EAA in any capacity is a huge honor, and that’s one of many reasons why he decided to donate his belongings to the museum.
“Whether it’s coming in as a visitor, or working involved as a volunteer, or whatever … there’s a lot of good camaraderie here that you don’t see in other places in the world,” John said.
In 2021 John was named an EAA Volunteer of the Year.
“It’s emotional. I’m overwhelmed by it,” John said. “Brings tears to my eyes. I’d have never dreamed … had no expectation [of winning that award].”
Winning that award was especially meaningful to him because EAA wasn’t just a part of John, it was part of his father, Frank, and brother, Bill, as well.
“EAA was a very important part of our love of aviation,” John said.
In fact, when John’s father passed in 2017, he felt that the EAA Aviation Museum would be a great place for some of his items. A bench in the Eagle Hangar was dedicated in his name and that of the Mellberg family.
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does — possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation magazine 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.