NewsLocal News

Actions

'We like airplanes': Longtime pilots and aviation fanatics spend decades volunteering at EAA AirVenture

Posted at 1:02 AM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 12:43:26-04

OSHKOSH, Wis. (NBC 26) — Hundreds of thousands of aviation fanatics were at EAA AirVenture all week. Among them were veteran volunteers who have helped out at the event for over 40 years.

"Well, my tag says 42 years on it," Dan Betzoldt said.

That’s how long Betzoldt and his wife Linda have been volunteering all the way from Tecumseh, Mich. Part of Betzoldt’s love for the festival stems from being an owner of a Meyers 145 built in 1946.

"1950, we moved back up and my dad gave my brother and I our first Meyers ride in that airplane," he said. "We were about 9, 10 years old."

Screen Shot 2022-08-01 at 12.54.27 AM.png
Betzoldt and his wife Linda have been volunteering all the way from Tecumseh, Mich. Part of Betzoldt’s love for the festival stems from being an owner of a Meyers 145 built in 1946.

And the couple are both pilots themselves.

"I've had it about 21 years," Betzoldt said. "It’s probably the best airplane I’ve ever had. It’s just a lot of fun to fly."

The most important things that keep them coming back to AirVenture to watch the flight line?

"Friendship and we like airplanes," Betzoldt said. "This is our vacation."

One of their friends is Carol Olszewski from Bath, N.Y.

"We’d hate to miss it because we have a lot of friends here and you wouldn’t see them except for this year," she said.

Olszewski's been volunteering for 38 consecutive years.

"We met somebody here and he said ‘did you want to stay and volunteer?’" she said. "We said ‘well okay,' because we’d be on the flight line. You get a lot better view of things."

Sometimes, Olszewski works to move spare planes around.

"It’s interesting to see what’s here and what isn’t, what hasn’t come back for awhile," she said. "Not every plane comes every single year."

But one thing's for sure: those volunteers will be back every single year.

"Forty years of fun with friends means a lot," Linda Betzoldt said.