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They're all neighbors in the Vintage airplane campground.
Jim Hamilton
Jim Hamilton and his proper Piper Pacer. Credit: Jack Hodgson
Mike and Janice Hoke
Mike and Janice Hoke and their 1955 Cessna 180. Credit: Jack Hodgson

Located in the middle of the AirVenture flightline and, for some, occupying the heart of the fly-in, is the Vintage campground.

Vintage camping and parking begins around the Red Barn at the corner of Vern Avenue, extends from the fence on Knapp Street out to the edge of the flightlin, and south all the way to Ultralights.

Nestled back between the Theater in the Woods and the Hangar Cafe is an area of about 75 beautiful pieces of flying history surrounded this week by tents, picnic tables, and other camping paraphernalia. The EAAers wishing to park their vintage airplanes here arrive as early as June to lay claim to preferred spots in this pastoral area.

One resident this year in Vintage camping is Jim Hamilton from Medford, Oregon.

We found Jim under the wing of his Piper Pacer, sitting at a picnic table with some of his neighbors, Steve, John, Randy, Gary, and Joan.

Jim made the flight to Oshkosh this year in 17 flying hours spread over two days. He is usually one of the first to arrive at the fly-in.

"I'm always the first airplane in here. I've been here a week. You've got to pay ahead of time, so there are seven airplanes here that mail me checks. The only way to save spaces is you have to pay in advance. I pay their registration and stake it all out so we can camp together."

He's had his 1953 Pacer for 19 years. When he bought it, it was a Tri-Pacer, but he converted it to the taildragger version.

"I would have been laughed at if I'd have kept it a Tri-Pacer.

"When I bought this version it was about $3,500, and now it's worth about $7,000."

Jim's been flying for 48 years. He learned on the GI Bill after service in the Navy.

Also enjoying the Vintage camping grounds are Mike and Janice Hoke from Reno, Nevada. They made the flight here in their 1955 Cessna 180.

They did it in one long day, with two stops. One was in North Platte, Nebraska.

"They've got a nice airport restaurant," says Mike, "and they were offering a 25-cent-a-gallon discount for people going to Oshkosh."

This is Mike's ninth time to AirVenture and Janice's fourth.

Both are pilots, and Mike taught Janice to fly. They had just met, and Mike was trying to impress Janice by showing her his plane, then a Luscombe, and teaching her to fly. It apparently worked; they've been married these many years and have twin sons. Who, by the way, Mike also taught how to fly.

It's in Mike's blood. His father was a pilot and instructor.

"My father ran a flying school when I was growing up. I was sitting in his lap flying when I was 6 years old."

Mike learned a lot of flying from his dad, though his official instructor was another CFI.

Mike's business is in aviation. His company, Abaris Training, teaches people about composite construction and repair. Mike is giving a couple of forums here at AirVenture on the subject.

Mike and Janice also enjoy their little neighborhood here at the fly-in. They visit with friends in the Vintage camping area and participate in some of the organized social events, such as the International 180+185 Club dinner and the seaplane base corn roast.

Enjoy Around the Field all year long at www.AroundTheField.net.

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