B-17 Volunteer Call

Hello, Chapter 186 Members!

I’m Mary Dominiak, coordinator for the B-17 visit this October, and I’m looking for your help. We need volunteers to assist with security, crowd control, merchandise sales, and ground tours during the visit. Could you spare a few hours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, October 18-21? If so, read on!

We don’t need a lot of help on Thursday, October 18, but we will need some. We’ll be doing our media flight at 1:00 PM to hopefully attract more attention to the bomber’s presence. We’ll need about 4 volunteers beginning at noon to help welcome media attendees, escort them onto the ramp and around the airplane, and move the stairs to and from the plane while we’re engaged in flight operations. Most of the real work, however, will happen around 3:00 PM after the media flight concludes, because we’ll have to position our cook trailer, tables, chairs, and small tents, and put up the temporary fencing and stanchions to define the B-17’s operational area and set it apart from the south side of the ramp where the Freedom Museum will construct its Hangar Dance tent pavilion. We’ve never used the airport’s new temporary plastic fencing before, so there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, and we’ve never had to create quite this extent of partition barrier. I know we can do it, but we’ll need to plan and adjust a bit on the fly! We should be done with our work by 5:00 PM.

Activities on each of our public days – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – will run from about 8:30 AM to about 6:00 PM. Depending on the weather, flights usually happen in the morning with the first flight taking off around 9:50. When the flights conclude – and that depends on how many seats we sell, but usually happens no later than 2:00 PM – the aircraft goes on static ground display.

For most positions, we could staff separate morning and afternoon shifts, if enough people participate. Those shifts would run from 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM, and from 1:00 to 6:00 PM. The 1:00-1:30 overlap is intended to let people grab lunch and transfer information. If you’d like to work a full day, great – just say so!

The merchandise van is the one assignment where full-day shifts are important, and if a couple of people would be willing to volunteer to run the van for all three days, that would be ideal! There’s a bit of a learning curve on running the cash register, tracking inventory, and tallying up the take each day, so continuity really helps there. We’ll need two people in the merchandise van for each shift. With the van, it works best if one person takes and assembles orders from customers, while the other one runs the cash register and credit card machine to ring up the sales. Don’t worry: you’ll have professional help and training from the crew!

The rest of our volunteer positions can rotate around and trade off on duties to keep folk from getting bored, hot, cold, sunburned, or wet, depending on our weather. We’ll need someone inside the terminal to card people through the door to and from the ramp, as well as folk outside to assist with ground tours, crowd safety, and ramp security.

While the plane is on the ground for tours, we’ll need three people to stay right with her: one at the nose to make certain people have their ground tour stickers and to guide them up the ladder without crowding; one in the flight deck area to guard the controls and keep people moving through (no sitting in control seats!); and one by the rear exit to keep people from entering the wrong way (except for those with impaired mobility who may only be able to access the rear area) and to assist people in leaving the plane. Anyone taking those positions will need to be relieved before departing from them.

During both the ground tours and flight operations, we’ll need an additional four to eight people to help manage visitors, directing people to the merchandise van for tickets and information, restricting them to safe areas on the ramp (“Yes, sir; I know she’s a big plane, but you can’t go beyond the safe zone cones to fit her into your viewfinder …”), and reminding folk not to touch such tempting things as the tail guns or walk into a wing or stabilizer while looking at something else! During flight ops, two of those volunteers will be tasked with handling the boarding stairs, carrying them to and from the plane, opening and securing the rear hatch, and helping folk in and out.

When the plane secures from flight operations each afternoon, we could also use volunteers willing to get physical and maybe a bit dirty cleaning her up. Have you ever wanted to groom a bomber? If so, here’s your chance! We’ll also be putting cones around the plane to define the safe area visitors need to stay inside.

This year, our Saturday operations will be a bit different from the usual, because the bomber’s visit overlaps with the Freedom Museum’s Hangar Dance. We’ll be doing a hard shutdown of all B-17 operations at 5:00 PM, to ensure that we’ll be able to clear all our visitors off the ramp by 5:30 PM so the area will be open in the evening only for Hangar Dance staff and patrons. In addition, after we secure from flight operations at 2:00 PM, we will occasionally need to reconfigure the ramp to park additional vehicles close to the B-17, including Andrew McKenna’s P-51, Chris Mayer’s O-2, and some planes from the Flying Circus. Happily, Paul Schafer has volunteered to be our ramp boss for that activity, but since no craft will be allowed to operate under power, we may be looking for willing hands to push planes or assist with crowd control while APP tows them into position. We will be flexible!

At the close of business on Sunday, we’ll also need to take down the temporary fencing and stanchions and return the ramp to its normal appearance. Hopefully, we’ll be able to accomplish that by 6:00 or 6:30 PM.

The plane will arrive on Wednesday, 10/17, and depart on Monday, 10/22. We might need a couple of extra hands on those days as well, just to help with initial setup and final cleanup, and to staff ground crew if any missed flights over the weekend wind up being completed on Monday. Let me know if you might be available for one or the other of these odd days.

I’m looking forward to an awesome weekend … I hope you’ll plan on being part of it! Thanks in advance!

Volunteer signups here: http://eaa186.org/b-17-volunteers/
Contact Mary Dominiak: mary@bardicvoice.com