August 1, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin
- The annual International Visitors Parade is always a major
celebration. Yesterday it took on a hint of ceremony when the participants
presented Appreciation Awards to a pair of U.S. aviators internationally
recognized as heroes, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First
Officer Jeffrey Skiles, the pilots of US Airways Flight 1549.
“We know you’re national heroes,” said
Claudio Candiota of Brazil, an Oshkosh visitor since 1982 who proposed the
international recognition. “We want you to know you’re international
“Welcome to Oshkosh,” Sullenberger
said in accepting his award. “You’ve probably already figured this is
the center of the love of aviation in the U.S. and probably around the
Sullenberger spoke from the second floor deck
at the conclusion of the International Visitors Parade, addressing
hundreds of visitors from around the world lined up behind their flags.
“Jeff and I are here as a team because on
January 15th we worked as a team.”
The message of being part of a team resonates
strongly with the thousands of visitors from around the world who attend
AirVenture every year, becoming members of the global team of aviation
Photo by Jim Labre
Before the presentation to Sullenberger and
Skiles, IVT Vice Chairman Margaret Koskinen, who has volunteered at the
tent for 32 years, thanked the paraders for coming to Oshkosh from points
all over the globe.
“We love helping you,” Koskinen told the
crowd. And it was clear the crowd loves Oshkosh. Roman Vdovin, a member of
the Russian Olympic boxing team, the standard bearer for his country’s
flag, is attending his first AirVenture.
“I love airplanes, and flying, and the sky,”
he said through a translator.
And he plans to return.
The IVT, located adjacent to the control tower
at the corner of Knapp Street Road and Waukau Street, has about 30
volunteer translators who together can translate some 30 languages. At 89
years old, Sylvia Fisher, who speaks six languages, is serving in her 29th
year as a volunteer. In addition to offering translation help, the IVT
gives international visitors a place to meet and relax during the day. And
the international visitors help make the fly-in a global celebration that
As First Officer Skiles said in accepting his
award, “As aviators, we know no borders.”