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www.wvno.com - There is an invasion of bugs, at the EAA AirVenture grounds in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but these beetles are a welcome sight.

   
 
 
Car Collection Causes Beetle Mania At EAA AirVenture

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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There is an invasion of bugs, at the EAA AirVenture grounds in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. But these beetles are a welcome sight. Everybody knows this is an EAA thing, they like to see them. It's beetle mania in Oshkosh. For more than 40 years, the bugs have helped EAA staff navigate the 1,600 acres of AirVenture. "From transportation to aircraft parking, to security and so forth," says Dick Knapinski, EAA Senior Communications Advisor. The oldest is from 1963. "I think it is kind of a tradition that we're trying to keep alive," says Gary Doehling, EAA Maintenance Supervisor. To keep the antiques running like new, this crew spends a full month each year, changing the oil, testing the brakes, and putting in new spark plugs. "This is what we have got so far, just started," says one worker. The bugs scurry around. "Some of them put on 500 miles, 600 miles, especially those on the flight line that are on constant movement, when you're parking aircraft, directing people, taking things to other volunteers," says Knapinski. "Almost the entire fleet has manual transmissions, and if you're like me and that isn't in your skill set, you can always catch a ride," says WFRV reporter Millaine Wells. "While we bring the newest technology here, and some of the newest things you'll see in avionics, it's also important to have that connection, that touchstone to the legacy behind us," Knapinski says. A legacy painted in rainbow colors, with personality to match the person behind the wheel. Red is for the highest ranking team members, including EAA's founding family the Poberezny's. Yellow goes to security. "This is my pride here number 430, this is the one that I've driven now close to 20 years," Knapinski says. While some of the fleet is street legal, not all the bugs have roofs. "If it does rain you'll get very wet, but the nice thing is the wipers do work, so the windshield will stay clean while you're getting wet at the same time," Knapinski says. Years of history, welded together by a team of dedicated mechanics who are happy 'not' to see their pride and joy during the week of AirVenture. "It's good when they don't come back in the shop," Knapinski says. AirVenture 2014 kicks off July 28.

   
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