IFFR Americas – The Quintessential New England Weekend and Oshkosh

In the course of July, IFFR Americas held two very different meetings, the Quintessential New England Fly/Drive in for the North East Section hosted by Gary and Connie Dehnel in New Hampshire, and the North Central Section meeting at EAA Airventure at Oshkosh Wisconsin. President George and Past President George attended both – the former having flown commercial to Boston and then on to Chicago, the latter having flown, once again, from California.

The Quintessential New England meeting was a small but select gathering. Rob and Robin Newman flew up from Pennsylvania, but bad weather prevented Dan Radtke and his passengers from making the journey from Virginia. It was a super few long weekend of exploring the area around Lake Winnipesaukee, including a trip up into the hills to see the Flume Gorge, flowing rapidly after recent rains, and a lunch at the Castle in the Clouds.

On the Monday, Caroline and I returned to Boston, flew to Chicago and then spent a few days touring around Lake Michigan visting friends in Kalamazoo, MI, Mackinac Island, Land O’Lakes, WI and Milwaukee, WI, where we enjoyed a sunny Sunday on the lakefront watching the Milwaukee air show, including an excellent display by the Blue Angels.

And then it was time for the main act! Three days of pure aviation fun and fellowship at EAA Airventure, Oshkosh. This was our first visit and it disappoint. We met up again with PWP George and PWP Svend Andersen, over from Denmark especially for the occasion. The weather was kind, if on the hot side, and the crowds were massive, but the three days gave us time to see most of what we wanted to see. For us, Monday included a visit to the STOL aircraft, the afternoon airshow, and quenching of a healthy appetite with a 20oz ribeye!

Tuesday’s activities included an interesting and well-attended presentation by IFFR member Mark Hanson on public benefit flying, including IFFR’s partnership with the Air Care Alliance – after which I presented him with his Presidential Citation for his work with Alan Dias to develop the IFFR and ACA partnership. Svend secured us dinner, as guests of the Piper Aircraft Corporation at the joint Piper and Pilatus party.

Wednesday was a busy day, with the traditional joint meeting/picnic with Oshkosh South-West Rotary Club in the Nature Pavilion at lunchtime. Around 100 of us sat down together, with attendees including the District Governor and Rotary International Vice-President Pat Merryweather. I was asked to be the guest speaker on the subject of Rotary Fellowships generally, and the Flying Rotarians in particular – a great opportunity to repeat the message that IFFR gives you great opportunities for aviation-related fellowship, new aviation experiences and aviation-related service.

Then in the evening, we had a wonderful IFFR social get-together, before the night time airshow, kindly hosted by Mark and Karen Hagen at their mobile home in the Camp Schuller campground. A lovely gathering of around 20 of us, with members from the US, the UK, Denmark and Australia! Great food, wine and fellowship.

We were sorry to have to cut our Oshkosh visit short, but we needed to get home – after 4 days at home, we would be off on our way to Finland for the IFFR Scandinavia meeting in Helsinki! But it was great to see growing numbers of members attending in both sections. We look forward to doing it again.

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