(From left) Cadet Airman Aden Erickson, Cadet 2nd Lt. Michael Cunningham, Capt. Richard Merz, Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Marshall and Cadet 2nd Lt. Patrick Robbins tour the EAA AirVenture Museum.
Photo by Cadet Maj. Kevin Felix, Wisconsin Wing
Maj. Todd Mandel
Deputy Commander for Cadets
La Crosse Composite Squadron
WISCONSIN – Students of aerospace history know the story of the Douglas DC-3 and how it revolutionized air travel. Recently, more than 25 members from four Wisconsin Wing squadrons watched as those same aircraft were overhauled and modified by Basler Turbo Conversions employees to meet the needs of today’s cargo and scientific research customers.
The Basler Turbo tour, along with a variety of other aerospace-related experiences, was part of the first Oshkosh Aviation Weekend hosted by the La Crosse Composite Squadron and attended by of that unit and the Sheboygan, Stevens Point and West Bend composite squadrons.
Participants had a chance to meet Jeff Skiles, vice president for chapters and youth for the Experimental Aviation Association. Skiles talked about the EAA, his career as an airline pilot and his most famous flight – he was the co-pilot on U.S. Airways Flight 1549, better known as the Jan. 15, 2009, “Miracle on the Hudson.”
The Wisconsin Wing members also toured the EAA AirVenture Museum, just across the air field from the Oshkosh CAP facility, where the participants stayed. The museum maintains an extensive collection of aviation history- and aerospace science-related materials.
The members also participated in hands-on aerospace activities under the direction of Maj. Dave Snyder, the La Crosse squadron’s aerospace education officer. Orientation flights were provided by the La Crosse and Fox Cities squadrons, with eight cadets receiving rides.
They also toured the Wittman Regional Airport tower, which bills itself as the busiest tower in the world during the annual EAA AirVenture air show held there each summer.
In the evenings the participants had a chance to relax, play games and watch movies.
Capt. Richard Merz, the La Crosse squadron’s activities officer, came up with the idea for the aerospace-themed weekend and served as the event’s project officer. A National Blue Beret graduate, Merz was familiar with the Oshkosh facility and the aviation-related opportunities that surround it.
“It’s a great facility, very affordable, and made for a great base to work from in planning all these visits and tours,” he said.