EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedVolunteer Spotlight: Pat and Carl Tortorige, Quincy, Illinois

Carl Tortorige puts up signs to prepare the AirVenture grounds for the annual fly-in and convention.

Carl Tortorige drives the tram in Vintage aircraft.

Pat Tortorige works at the volunteer booth in Vintage aircraft. Her daughter, Annette, smiles for the camera.

Pat and Carl Tortorige say it's contagious. That's the only way to explain why, as of this year, they will have been volunteering during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for 27 years and 22 years, respectively.

The Tortoriges, of Quincy, Illinois, have volunteered in many areas - Operation Thirst, transient aircraft, maintenance, and Vintage aircraft, among others.

"There is no favorite place for me to volunteer," says Pat. "The satisfaction I get out of volunteering is knowing that whatever I seem to be doing is appreciated. It allows me to give back to the organization that has given me so much more in return."

When the couple first came to the fly-in convention in 1977 with their 11-month-old, they were not pilots. But once they got the bug, it didn't take long for that to change. By 1979, both had their private pilots license and in 1989 they completed a Kitfox homebuilt. Throughout the years, they added two more children to their family, as well as a Cessna 182.

Now retired, Pat works as vice chairwoman of the Vintage volunteer booth, helping to coordinate the 400-450 volunteers there, and Carl drives the tram, hauling people to see the antique and classic airplanes. Before convention, you'll find them both helping in South Maintenance.

"It gives you a little bit of ownership when you help to prepare for the convention," Carl says. "You look around and know that you did this or that. The visiting public really appreciates…the way everything looks."

The Tortoriges give a lot of their time volunteering for EAA; Pat estimates that in 2007, they each spent about 160 hours volunteering on the AirVenture grounds, including helping to set up. But to others thinking about volunteering, they encourage them to try it - if only for a few hours.

"There is something for everyone to do," she says. "People tend to have more fun at Oshkosh when they volunteer. And once you do it, you won't stop."


FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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