Celebrating IAC Volunteers - the lift beneath our wings

By Jordan Ashley, IAC AirVenture Chairman

For AirVenture 2022, we will be “Celebrating IAC Volunteers…the lift beneath our wings.”
The IAC as an organization was founded by; and for more than 50 years; has been supported by volunteers. Because of this, we want to recognize and celebrate the work that is done by our membership, some seen but mostly unseen that has carried our organization for all these years. 2022 will mark my 27th AirVenture, 14th year as a volunteer and13th in IAC AirVenture Leadership. Because of this, my hope for AirVenture and the Aerobatic Center is for us to have a welcoming space with interesting merchandise, forums and community for current membership and guests alike. www.iac.org/air-venture-iac-aerobatics-center 

AirVenture is the IACs one opportunity a year to potentially interact with the more than 500,000 people, from all over the world. With the potential for positive exposure being so high for AirVenture, it is my desire that we utilize the week to celebrate all things IAC and get others excited about what we do as well. We might not see a short-term return on our efforts and that is fine with me. Had Jim and Jean Taylor not taken a freshly minted pilot under their wing at AirVenture in 2008, I most likely would not be in the positions that I am today. I believe if we do the week right, we stand a very real chance of inspiring a young person to fall in love with aviation, hopefully with aerobatics too and that hope is what will allow us to carry on as an organization and industry for another 50+ years to come.
With that dream, and a new, much larger volunteer team for AirVenture 2022, comes new ideas, initiatives, and maybe even new tangible things for some of you to take home! Some new things may work, others, may fail and this is ok. Trying and failing is often how we find growth and success as an organization. So, I’d like you to join us this year to try a few new of our new things for yourself.
  • Join us for free popcorn throughout the week if you need a salty snack before the airshow.
  • Join us on Wednesday afternoon for a meet and greet of airshow pilots.
  • Join us for four full days of forum presentations with 16 presentations over those four days ranging from: how to grow your aerobatic chapter to becoming an airshow pilot and building your own aerobatic airplane.
  • Join us by flying in, we look forward to meeting you and inviting you to the IAC building for a few surprise goodies. I had no idea how many volunteers it would take to make this come to fruition and I am grateful to the members of the KVG group that have helped with this initiative.
  • Join us by “flying” your own sequence or one of the known sequences at our ground walk box that will be south of the IAC Building this year.
  • Join us by volunteering for a few hours or a few days. We will be recognizing some of our volunteers with newly created AirVenture specific volunteer awards, to be given out at the membership gathering on Friday evening as well.
Countless hours, put in by countless volunteers are the only reason that we as an organization can exist and most definitely the only way that we can have the presence that we do at AirVenture each year. Some volunteers are with us for just a day or a few hours depending on their schedules but there are also those that go above and beyond, sometimes for just a single year and others for multiple years or decades. Knowing this, we will begin recognizing a volunteer each year who has gone above and beyond in their service to the IAC and AirVenture with the AirVenture Dedicated Volunteer Award.
Young people are the core of building a foundation of growth for the organization. I was once a young person volunteering at AirVenture and learned have learned many things over the years from our IAC members who have taken some time out of their week to share their knowledge and wisdom with me. Hopefully, they have learned a few new things from me along the way too! It is my hope that the AirVenture Rising Star Award can be a way for us to recognize a young or student volunteer at AirVenture that has gone above and beyond the call of duty in their service to the IAC at AirVenture.
One of the cornerstones of AirVenture are our forums. They serve as a way for the IAC to utilize our unique membership and knowledge in pursuit of creating a safer aviation community, The AirVenture Forums award was created to recognize a forum presenter that contributes to furthering the mission of the IAC with their presentation.
Last, what would an airshow be without airplanes? Our desire to recognize an outstanding aerobatic airplane at AirVenture is what started the conversations around the awards that we’ve created. Every year, around 50 airplanes join us in and around the IAC area for the week and after 13 years of parking those airplanes, there is always at least one airplane that just stands out for one reason or another. Sometimes, it was the paint scheme, technology or a new design. Other times, it has been the pilot or the story behind the airplane that takes the show and leaves a dirt path around the airplane from so many people looking at it. Regardless of what it has been, we crated the AirVenture Showplane award to recognize a pilot or their airplane that comes to AirVenture and makes an impression, not only on us but to those visitors who may be experiencing AirVenture for their 1st for 50th time.
I am honored to have been asked by the Board of Directors at the November 2021 meeting to take on the roles and challenges of Chairing AirVenture 2022. I cannot do it alone however and wish to express my gratitude to the following individuals who have agreed take on certain responsibilities of that have traditionally been held by the Chair as well as new responsibilities new things we are trying this year for the first time. The members of the AirVenture Key Volunteer Group (KVG) are:
Michael Church – Forums
Todd Ashcraft – Parking
Jeff Granger – Camping
John Ostmeyer – AirVenture Awards
Dagmar Kress – AirVenture Ambassador Program
Jeff Petrocelli – AirVenture Experience
Brittanee Lincoln, Lynn Bowes, Sara Arnold, Lorrie Penner and Steve Kurtzahn - group members with various responsibilities and contributions.
If you join us this year, and see them or any of our other volunteers, take a moment to thank them for the work that they have done to make this year a success.