It took Bill Kornrumpf 50 days to get to AirVenture. Why so long? Well, it takes a little extra time when you travel 3,000 miles on a bicycle.
Kornrumpf, 69, from Schenectady, New York, started his trip solo in Ocean City, Oregon.
And after AirVenture, he’ll ride 1,200 miles more to Cape Cod, Maine.
“You have to start with your wheels wet in the Pacific, and it isn’t over until you get them wet in the Atlantic,” Kornrumpf said. “That’s the tradition.”
For the past five years, Kornrumpf has volunteered as a hospitality cart driver at AirVenture. He gives about 100 rides a day, and loves the opportunity to meet people.
“I meet a lot of kind people,” he said. “I get to sit and talk with them as I’m driving.”
Kornrumpf, a retired electrical engineer whose last project was a fiber-optic communications system for the F-16, has been coming to AirVenture for 10 years.
His father was a World War II flight mechanic, which gave Kornrumpf an appreciation for aviation, even though he isn’t a pilot.
“I don’t believe I have the discipline to be a pilot,” he said. “I’m a little flakey.”
Along his cross-country bicycle trip, Kornrumpf has been stopping at aerospace museums—he’s been to 10 so far. His favorite was the Evergreen Museum, where he saw Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.
A 3,000-mile journey begins with one pedal…
The beginning of Kornrumpf’s trip wasn’t easy: he biked in the rain for the first 20 days. “It was a blessing in disguise,” he said.
“Now I’m used to the rain, so if it’s going to rain, I just get on the bike and start riding.”
Overall, Kornrumpf said bicycling across the country hasn’t been hard.
“There are people out there that will help you,” he said, adding that they’re happy to tell him which roads will be easiest to ride and which cafes are the best.
He keeps a journal online, and he said many entries start with, “The kindness of strangers comes through again.”
While some people bicycle across the country in a much shorter time, Kornrumpf is happy to take it slow.
“Some people ride with their head down all day and ride for 10 or 12 hours,” he said, adding that he rides for about six hours a day, usually stopping around 2 p.m.
“I’m sitting in cafes meeting people.”
For his 70th…
Kornrumpf celebrated his 69th birthday on the road; he stopped to see friends in Montana, and there was a birthday rhubarb pie waiting for him.
He has 20 days left in his trip, and come September, he’ll be on his bike again—this time with his wife in the French Alps.
Though he won’t be bicycling to AirVenture again next year, he’ll be back and ready to volunteer—at 70.
“I’ll keep coming until I can’t anymore,” he said.