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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedInternational Visitors Tent Marks 35 Years - New location, same hospitality
By James Wynbrandt, EAA AirVenture Today

July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, WisconsinNot only is Wittman Field the world’s busiest airport during the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in convention, it’s also the world’s happiest international arrivals terminal.

Each year thousands of visitors from dozens of countries attend AirVenture. Last year’s tally was more than 2,000 visitors from more than 70 nations. For 35 years now, the International Visitors Tent (IVT) served as host to them, providing helpful information, a place to meet, and translators to answer their questions.

And this year the operation has a new location: Their big yellow-andwhite tent is just north of the control tower at the corner of Knapp Street Road and Waukau Street.

The IVT was launched in 1974 when the EAA sought volunteers to make some expected visitors from Australia feel at home. That remains the IVT’s mission to this day.

“We have about 25 to 30 volunteers and speak about as many languages,” Michel Bryson, IVT chairman said.

Most international visitors come with groups on airlines. But some fly their own aircraft from overseas, and this year the Oshkosh-bound owner-flown fleet includes 16 aircraft from Germany, 10 from across Europe led by Britain’s Rodney Blois, and a pair of aircraft from South Africa and from Italy, according to the IVT. 

The visitors will be feted at the annual International Visitors Parade at noon on Friday. Marching behind the flags of their nations to an official welcoming to AirVenture, this year’s ceremony includes a scheduled meeting with Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles of the US Airways Flight 1549, the flight crew that safely ditched an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in January. The meeting was arranged at the behest of longtime Brazilian attendee Claudio Candiota.

“It’s an opportunity for the international community to show the admiration and respect for the crew,” Bryson said.

The IVT maintains a bulletin board for posting messages and guest books where visitors can register. Volunteers recall long lost friends from overseas who’ve discovered each other at AirVenture by looking through the guest logs.

 “One year we had a German gentleman who had never been to the fly-in but had always been interested in aviation,” recalled longtime IVT volunteer Barbro Whiting. “He and a buddy who later moved to Canada had promised each other they were going to become pilots. We looked in the guest book and saw his buddy was here, and arranged for them to come to the tent at the same time. They fell into each other’s arms and cried, and they’ve been visiting back and forth ever since.”

You don’t have to live outside the United States to be welcome at the tent. Many attendees drop by simply to meet pilots and aviation enthusiasts from around the world, or because they’re planning on visiting a particular country and hope to meet someone who can provide advice on traveling to their country.

“We get that a lot,” said Bryson. “U.S. pilots who are planning on flying to a particular country will come here because they want to meet someone from that country.” The IVT proves that enthusiasm for aviation knows no borders.


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