Hatch reluctantly agreed to come to Oshkosh for the EAA fly-in convention in
1973 "only to do the cooking" for her husband and two sons.
"I didn't want to spend all day looking at
airplanes," recalled Hatch, of Akron, Ohio. "I don't like to just sit
around and watch, watch, watch. So I took along some mending, some cards and
anything else that would take up the day when the boys were gone."
She soon wandered into the Craft Tent, completed
a few projects and mentioned that she had some craft ideas. By the next day,
she was teaching others to create a Santa Claus made out of a pop can.
They asked her to come back and volunteer the
next year, and Hatch has never left. Now chairwoman of the Craft Tent, 2008
will mark her 34th year as an AirVenture volunteer. She's missed just one
fly-in convention since that first year, and that was due to health issues.
While Hatch, 81, only works in the craft tent
for one week out of the year, she spends about six months looking for ideas,
organizing teachers and buying supplies. "If I see something I like, I buy
it and try to recreate it to meet my own needs," she said. "I've
always been involved in things that I can do with my hands."
Classes for children and adults are held daily
from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and although you must register for the classes in advance,
stand-bys can often be accommodated, she said. A small fee for supplies is
In 2008, more than 10 people will teach craft
classes, and up to 10 classes will be offered on some days.
"Oshkosh has become my second family,"
Hatch said. "When we get together it's like we have never been apart. You
couldn't know nicer, more caring people."
But this year Hatch will be joined by some of
her real family - a granddaughter and grandson will attend EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh with her. Hatch's husband died 17 years ago.
And while Hatch admits that she still comes to
Oshkosh for the people, she's learned to love the airplanes, too. "The
Harrier is my favorite, plus I always make a trip to see the Warbirds."