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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedEAA honors major chapter achievements
By Barbara A. Schmitz, EAA AirVenture Today

August 1, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - They have founded EAA chapters that are thriving, passed on their knowledge about aviation and homebuilding, made the EAA website easier to navigate, and created an aviation museum that is open to the public.

For their contributions, they will receive the EAA Major Achievement Award during the Chapter Leaders Breakfast in the EAA AirVenture Museum’s Founders’ Wing today.

The award, established to recognize outstanding chapter members, honors those who have demonstrated their passion and dedication for their chapter, EAA, and the international aviation community.

The 2009 winners include:

Frank Herdzina, EAA Chapter 1414
If you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t seem like work.

That’s what Herdzina, of Poplar Grove, Illinois, believes. And that explains his contributions to EAA and Chapter 1414.

Herdzina is the founding father of the chapter, as well as past treasurer and current secretary. He donates the use of his hangar for chapter meetings, events, and projects, and he is a regular AirVenture volunteer at KidVenture, for the Ambassador program, and in the workshop area. Why does he give of so much of his time?

“I really enjoy what I’m doing,” he said.

Herdzina also leads the restoration shop at the Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum and has provided an ongoing commitment to the local museum’s Youth Exploring Aviation program that includes weekly outreach programs.

In fact, working with youth is one of his favorite activities.

“I like to get youth interested in aviation,” he said. “Right now we’re working on a project for the museum where we are taking kids and showing them how to rebuild an airplane from scratch.”

A statement in his nomination paper summarizes Herdzina’s impact. “He is a builder, a mentor, and a leader. Giving freely of his time and knowledge, Frank daily demonstrates the qualities that have guided EAA into its leadership role in the aviation community.”

Aldine Patton, EAA Chapter 172
When Patton was a boy, one of his father’s friends died in an airplane crash. 

Patton recalled: “That night, as we were eating supper, Dad said, ‘There won’t be any aviators in this house.’ He didn’t look at me, but I knew he was talking to me.” 

But the boy had the aviation bug, so he would sneak to the airport, learning to fly by cleaning hangars, fueling airplanes, and so on. 

Thank goodness he didn’t listen to his dad. 

Patton has had an impressive aviation career that includes flying dive bombers for the Navy in World War II, providing flight instruction for the U.S. Air Force, and working for the FAA as an aeronautical engineer and air traffic controller. 

In the late 1950s, he designed and built his first airplane, the APF1, which was featured in the August 1962 issue of EAA Sport Aviation. He followed it up with the APF2. APF stands for “Al Patton Follies.” 

Then, in 1963, he founded Chapter 172 in Augusta, Georgia. Throughout the years, Patton has served as chapter president, secretary, and treasurer. At 86, he is still an active member, serving as a technical counselor, flight advisor, and newsletter editor. 

In the nomination form, the chapter wrote, “His knowledge and consistent willingness to pass along his expertise in the design and construction of custom-built aircraft has endeared him to all who know him.”

Jim Smith, EAA Chapter 1246
Smith, of McKinney, Texas, took two things he knows well—websites and airplanes— and merged them to help create an improved

EAA website. EAA members will recognize his list of online solutions, including:

  • EAA Calendar of Events— the second most visited area on the EAA website
  • Chapter Speakers Bureau
  • Chapter Online Event Insurance Application
  • EAA Insurance Quote Kiosk

Smith’s most recent project was working with EAA staff to completely upgrade the AirVenture Events software, allowing attendees to create their own itinerary for the week of the fly-in convention.

He also created the website FunPlacesToFly.com, which shares information on fun-to-visit aviation destinations. How did it start?

“Many, many years ago, after I got my pilot’s license and when I first started doing programming, I wanted to create a website that encouraged people to include fun places to fly that I didn’t know about,” he said. Today the site boasts more than 3,000 places in 50 states; the site also includes an aviation blog, aviation news, and more.

“I’ve been doing web development since 1994, and I really wanted to help and get involved in something I enjoy. There is nothing like doing something you know how to do and love at the same time….”

Edward Waldorf, EAA Chapter 1241
Waldorf, of Marathon, Florida, wanted to share aviation history with others. So he constructed a free public museum in the Florida Keys that also serves as the chapter’s hangar.

The museum started in 2001 and was located in the Marathon airport’s main terminal. But a flood in 2005 ruined many of the artifacts, and the county told the museum to find a new location.

It recently relocated to its current location, and the museum is painted like a Quonset hut from World War II. Many of the artifacts inside were donated, and the museum focuses on what aviation has meant to the Florida Keys.

Waldorf, one of the Chapter 1241 founders, has served as both chapter president and vice president, and he said the group now has about 125 members who are active, not only in the museum, but also with the Young Eagles program.

In addition, Waldorf helped to develop a scholarship program that high school students can use to offset the cost of getting their pilot certificate.

“I believe every chapter should have a scholarship program, even if it is just one a year. With 1,300 chapters that means we would add 1,300 more pilots into the mix every year, and if we do that for 20 years, it would help a lot to build general aviation.”

Darin Hart will accept the award on Waldorf’s behalf.

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