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Fire and aviation staff inspire attendees at AirVenture Oshkosh

WISCONSIN – For one week each summer, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, turns into a hub for aviation enthusiasts. More than 600,000 people and more than 10,000 airplanes visit the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture, also known as, “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.”

USDA Forest Service Eastern Region has been participating in AirVenture since 2016 as part of the International Federal Partnership, a group of Federal government agencies and international counterparts that all have an interest in engaging with aviators and aviation enthusiasts. AirVenture offers a unique opportunity to share the Forest Service’s mission, services and resources available with the large audience present. This year was unique as the International Federal Partnership had a ribbon cutting for the new International Federal Pavilion – Hangar D. The event opened with a special appearance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Regional Aviation Officer Robert Madill and North Zone Aviation Officer Chad Runyan were instrumental in these year’s planning and participation, including having the Forest Service be part of the daily airshow demonstrating aerial firefighting with water drops. Eastern Region coordinated resources such as the C-23 Shorts Sherpa from Missoula (parked at Airshow Center), DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver (parked right outside the pavilion) from Ely, and C-130 MAFFS 5 from Colorado Springs, along with Forest Service employees such as pilots, smokejumpers and aircraft safety inspectors, from across the country to engage with the public and answer their questions. Runyan worked with EAA to have Forest Service conduct radio interviews, panel discussions, on-air commentary during the aerial firefighting demonstration. Click ahead and fast-forward to 2:31:29 to view the recorded demonstration.

Inside the International Federal Pavilion, visitors learn more about becoming a pilot, fire prevention, opportunities and resources available at the Forest Service. Visitors of all ages took their pictures and wished Smokey Bear a happy 75th birthday.There were 12 other Federal agencies present in the Pavilion as well.

Attendees were inspired by all AirVenture had to offer. Local school teacher, Hannah Kuplack, was walking past the International Federal Pavilion when the Forest Service’s DHC-2 de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver caught her eye. She laid out a blanket and started to draw. Another attendee shared with Forest Service staff a conversation that she had last year with Pilot Mary Verry. A week after that conversation, she signed up for the Air Force and hopes to become a future Forest Service pilot. Several children got their wish with a VIP tour of AirVenture along with a U.S. Customs & Border Protection helicopter ride made possible by Make-A-Wish Foundation, the International Federal Partnership, and the Experimental Aircraft Association. Click ahead for more information on the EAA and the International Federal Partnership

Click ahead for more Forest Service photos from the event.

Aircraft formation with a traffic control tower in the front
Warbirds of America show off their skills during the 2019 Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. USDA photo by Preston Keres.
Woman standing in front of airplane, showing picture she drew
Hannah Kuplack, from Appleton, Wisconsin, draws a USDA Forest Service's DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver on display the 2019 Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. USDA photo by Preston Keres.
Plane dropping water
Canadair CL-215 (Scooper) drops water during Aerial Firefighting Demo at the 2019 Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. USDA photo by Preston Keres.