EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

 for Wed, July 30, 2008

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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 4 July 30, 2008     

Around the Field
By Jack Hodgson

Dave and Bridgett Benner are here for their second time to AirVenture. They flew their Bonanza from their home base at Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott, Arizona.

They came to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last year because they had been given an EAA family membership as a gift. "We had so much fun last year that we came back again this year," said Bridgett.

Their flight into OSH took 10.5 flight hours and included stops in Casper, Wyoming, and Dubuque, Iowa.

This year they left the kids with their grandparents and are enjoying Oshkosh on their own.

What are the things they remember most from their first visit?

"The enthusiasm," says Bridgett.

"Yeah itís just all the passion for aviation," says Dave. "Sharing what you love about aviation and flying. When youíre home with your friends itís like, ĎOh, you fly? Thatís cool. Do you fly at night?í But youíre here and everybody else speaks the language. Shares the enthusiasm. Itís a lot of fun."

"Last year we brought our 10-year-old," remembers Bridgett, "and he did the ground school over at the KidVenture. And now he has a whole new love for flying with his dad, because he got to do that."

Their plane is a 1966 V-Tail Bonanza. Theyíve owned it for two years.

"We do as much flying as we can," says Dave. "I just retired and youíd think thatís the time to do more. But we just redid the interior of it. Three months to do the interiors, and itís just come back up last month, so Iíve started flying a lot with it again."

What kind of flying trips do they do back home?

"One of the things we really like to do because we live in northern Arizona, is fly the Grand Canyon. We take friends, or people visiting the area."

We wondered what restrictions are on private planes over the canyon.

"As long as you avoid hazy days, because you have to be at a minimum of 10,500 feet over the main corridors that go over the nicest parts of the canyon. Thereís other places to the west where the canyon still is quite nice and you can be at 9,000 feet. And the rim all along there is about 5,000 feet so youíre anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 feet. Itís still phenomenal."

Chuck Papas with his son, Air Force Crew Chief Dan Papas. Photo by Jack Hodgson

In 1997, nine-year-old Dan Papas was attending his first Oshkosh Fly-In. Dan, and his dad, Chuck, were talking with a friendly stranger, and Dan blurted out that he planned on joining the Air Force. That stranger turned out to be a retired Air Force colonel, who became young Danís mentor.

Dan knew that he wanted to fly from a very young age. He was an EAA member and flew as a Young Eagle (his dad has flown more than 300 Young Eagles).

He soloed on his 16th birthday, got his private at 17. As soon as he graduated high school he joined the Air Force. At 19, after coming back from Air Force tech school, he did his instrument and commercial ratings.

Now heís going to college full-time and is a crew chief on a C-130 for the Air National Guard in Illinois.

Chuck drove the family car to Oshkosh this year from their home in Valparaiso, Indiana, but Dan, who is now 20, soloed here in their 1960 Cessna 172.

The plane has been in their family for 15 years.

"Weíve worked on it and restored it since I was 4 years old," says Dan. "Iíve only known this airplane."

"Iíve had so many adventures and childhood memories in this plane. Last summer we were able to, in between my Air Force and college careers, fly this out to Colorado, and took it up to South Dakota. We saw Wall Drug, the Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore. Then flew it to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to visit friends we made in Oshkosh."

Dan spent part of the summer in Japan doing humanitarian operations as crew chief of his C-130. He was recently deployed to combat the flooding in the Midwest, and in the fall he will be going to Afghanistan.

Heís attended every AirVenture since he was nine, even though his busy career limited him to a one-day visit a couple years ago. But he fully intends to make it back here every year in the future.

Visit the "Around the Field" archive at www.AroundTheField.net.

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