This piece originally ran in the July 2021 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.
When it comes to EAA’s Young Eagles program, you won’t find too many volunteers more passionate than Ted and Lynn Kirkpatrick. Since the inception of Young Eagles in 1992, Ted, EAA 142682, and Lynn, EAA 807044, have been involved.
“In 1992, when the Young Eagles came about, I was very interested in that, and I realized how important a program that was going to be,” Ted explained. “In ’93, under the leadership of Greg Anderson at the time, we started volunteering for Young Eagles. That’s when Lynn joined me and started volunteering.”
Ted is currently the volunteer chairman for the Young Eagles program at the Blue Barn during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. In 2006, Ted received the Outstanding Young Eagles Field Representative Award. In addition, both Ted and Lynn are actively involved in EAA Chapter 850 located in Marquette, Michigan. Ted currently serves as the chapter’s president and Young Eagles coordinator. In 2015, the chapter received the Horizon Award, which recognizes efforts that go beyond the standard Young Eagles flight.
During AirVenture, Ted and Lynn primarily volunteer in the Blue Barn, performing a variety of duties pre-convention and during the week.
“A lot of the work that I do is actually before the convention even starts,” Lynn explained. “There’s always cleanup to do, of course. … There’s usually painting or projects that they want to build. We put picnic tables together one year. It’s always a huge variety of different things. A lot of painting and cleaning and organizing. Shirts come in for the volunteers, and I usually take care of those. I kind of like doing that, the organizing projects. During the actual convention, that’s usually time slots that everyone has signed up for depending on what you excel in or like to do. One year we had the map where we asked members to come in and put a little pin where you’re from. I’ve worked that station a couple of times.”
Meanwhile, Ted typically coordinates volunteer activities and steps in as a carpenter from time to time.
“My duties pre-convention have centered around working with getting the volunteers signed up and communicating with the volunteers,” he said. “We usually arrive several days before the convention. I do a lot of the carpentry work. I’ve worked over at KidVenture and made stairs for their Citation mock-up over there and things like that, but I do carpentry work. During the convention, I’m centered around the volunteers and really acting as a coordinator for the volunteers to make sure all the stations are staffed. I help out when they have questions they can’t answer.”
Like most volunteers, both Ted and Lynn cite the friendships they’ve made over the years as a key reason why they continue volunteering. But the importance of inspiring the next generation of aviators is a calling, and they’re both passionate about fulfilling that mission.
“After that first [Young Eagles] flight, I was hooked,” Ted said. “It was the most fantastic thing. That really hooked me as far as the program. Of course being at Oshkosh and being able to talk to volunteers and pilots from all over the country and all over the world has been a tremendous opportunity, and you can just see the enthusiasm. Our Young Eagles volunteers at Oshkosh, a lot of them have been there nearly since the inception and are very, very dedicated volunteers. It’s a pleasure to work with them all. We’ve made some terrific friends over the years at Oshkosh. I think it’s been one of the most successful programs that EAA has ever had and one of the most important. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does — possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation is dedicated to thanking and shining the spotlight on volunteers from the community. Sadly, it cannot capture all of the thousands of volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a volunteer at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to thank them for it. It’s the least we can do. Do you know a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Volunteer Spotlight? Visit EAA.org/Submissions.