Like any other medium-sized city, the names of roads and other areas in and around the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh grounds are identified by signs. If you’re a bit of an Oshkosh veteran, you’ve probably come to know many of them, just as you would those of your hometown. Maybe you’re staying in Camp Scholler along Stits Road, just off of Schaick Avenue. Or maybe you meet your friends for a photo at the Brown Arch, which is just off of Wittman Road. Most if not all EAA members who drive in to the convention along Poberezny Road or Jack Pelton Parkway know those origins, and we don’t need to tell you about the inspiration for roads like Doolittle and Lindbergh, but what about some of the others? Here are the stories behind just a few of the names you’ll see around the grounds.
The sprawling drive-in campground that becomes home to some 40,000 people for the week was named in honor of Ray Scholler, EAA Lifetime 4000, and his wife, Bernice, in 1988. The Schollers were pillars of EAA — he became a member in the 1950s and helped with countless fly-ins and chapter events, and was instrumental in preparing the EAA grounds when our convention made the move to Oshkosh in 1970. Ray earned the Freedom of Flight Award in 1991 and the Chairman’s Award in 1994, among many other recognitions.
Schaick Avenue, which runs east from Poberezny Road along the northern edge of Camp Scholler all the way to Knapp Street by the Theater in the Woods, was named for Wilbert “Will” Schaick, EAA 57836. Like the Schollers, Will was a longtime EAA member and volunteer who was heavily involved with the move to Oshkosh. Will founded the Flight Line Operations group at AirVenture that manages aircraft ground movements and parking among other things, and was the designer of the distinctive chopped Volkswagen Beetles that are a signature part of the convention’s atmosphere.
Many of you know this one, but, for those that don’t, Wittman Road, which roughly parallels the flightline along runway 18/36, got its name from the same source as the airport itself — Sylvester “Steve” Wittman. Steve, an avid pilot for his entire life, started barnstorming in the 1920s in a Standard J-1, and started a prominent and extremely successful air racing career soon thereafter. In addition to raceplanes like Chief Oshkosh and Bonzo, he also designed a series of sport aircraft, including the Wittman W-5 Buttercup, which is on permanent display at the EAA Aviation Museum, and Tailwind, a homebuilt design that remains popular even today. Steve started a flying service and became the first manager of the Oshkosh airport in 1931, a position he held until his retirement in 1969, when the airport was renamed Wittman Regional in his honor.
Running north and south through Camp Scholler, Stits Road honors the legendary Ray Stits, EAA Lifetime 136. In the early 1950s, shortly after the formation of EAA, Ray began a mail order business to supply homebuilders with materials and parts. He followed that successful endeavor with a series of simple-to-build designs of his own: the Playboy, Playmate, Flut-R-Bug, and Sky-Coupe, which he eventually developed into a certificated airplane. Along the way, he also developed his famous Poly-Fiber covering process, which became so successful that he had to drop his other business endeavors and concentrate on it exclusively. Along the way, he founded EAA Chapter 1 at the Flabob Airport near Riverside, California.
James Ray Boulevard
James Ray, EAA 137309, was a decorated B-17 command pilot with the Eighth Air Force in World War II. He dedicated his life to aviation and provided generous philanthropic support to EAA, including constructing the Air Academy Lodge, which hosts young people ages 12-18 for camps every summer. In addition, the Ray Foundation supports the Ray Aviation Scholarship Fund, which provides up to $1.2 million annually to fund flight training for young people who are members of EAA chapters. James Ray Boulevard, which runs northeast from the main gate to the forums area of our convention grounds, was named in his honor in 2009.
The namesake of Mulva Drive, which runs southeast from the AirVenture main gate to the Aeromart, is Jim Mulva, EAA Lifetime 508023. In addition to having served as a naval officer, James, an avid pilot, is the former chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips and a longtime pilot and EAA supporter. In the early days of the Young Eagles youth outreach program, Jim partnered with EAA to create the Phillips 66 Aviation Young Eagles fuel rebate program. This entitles EAA pilot volunteers to a $1 per gallon rebate on avgas when purchased from a Phillips 66 FBO.