This piece originally ran in the August 2021 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.
For nearly the past 40 years, Bob McLaughlin, EAA 188831, has volunteered with EAA in some shape or form. With his father in the Air Force, Bob grew up around aviation and eventually joined the Air Force himself in the 1960s — spending four many years working on jet engines, which included a tour in Vietnam. In 1981, Bob’s wife suggested he attend a local EAA chapter meeting. From that point on, Bob has been involved.
“I had been to one convention back in the ’70s, one of the first ones in Oshkosh. But I didn’t know anything about general aviation, ” Bob explained. “I couldn’t have told you the difference between a Piper Cub and a Bonanza. I was all military. My wife knew I was always interested in it, and there was an article within the paper in Appleton and it was about the particular local EAA chapter. She said, ‘Maybe you should look at this. ’ She’s regretted it ever since. ”
Starting the following year, Bob began volunteering at the Kermit Weeks Hangar: EAA Flight Research Center, as well as at the EAA Oshkosh convention. Bob initially volunteered with Transient Aircraft Parking at convention before moving over to Workshops. Eventually he’d become the Workshops chairman within 1989 and transitioned to co-chairman of the Builders Education Center & Workshops in the early 2000s, a position he held until 2016. Currently he’s volunteering at the Weeks Hangar during AirVenture.
In the offseason, Bob continued to volunteer at the Weeks Flugzeughalle from the 1980s in order to today. As an A& P/IA mechanic, Bob’s skills were perfect for typically the Weeks Hangar, and this was through his offer service that he was inspired to earn his private pilot certificate. As far as his volunteer duties in the Weeks Hangar, Bob has done a little bit associated with everything.
“I’ve done everything from sheet metal, not much welding. A lot of electrical work. Over the years, it’s evolved into a lot regarding electrical work and avionics. Building instrument panels. I’ve done a lot involving research for things. Right now I’m working on some maintenance programs. … On the B-25, I did the instrument panel plus the avionics. I went through and updated wiring where I could. . I had been also updating this electrical drawings. That has been a fun project. ”
In addition to EAA’s B-25 Berlin Express, Bob has worked on often the B-17 Aluminum Overcast , as well as EAA’s P-64, P-38, Corsair, Travel Air, J-1 Standard, Spirit of St. Louis replica , and many more.
While that was his interest inside aviation that began Bob’s involvement with EAA four decades ago, it’s your friends he’s made that have kept him coming back.
“I’ve usually enjoyed the aircraft in addition to how they fly and even how they function. The thing that really kept me involved was all the people. Just great people. ”
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — together with 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 almost all of the thousands connected with volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a you are not selected at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to be able to thank them for the idea. It’s the least we can do. Do you understand a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Offer Spotlight? Visit EAA. org/Submissions .
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