Volunteers Needed for B-17 Visit!

We need Chapter members to volunteer to help out with the upcoming visit to Manassas of the B-17 on September 28 through October 1, 2017. We’re looking for help with both aircraft operations and the EAA 186 Grill. For Friday night, when we’re planning on hosting the Big Bomber BBQ at the Chapter House, we’ll also need some help to set up tables, chairs, and tents, and to clean up after the dinner ends.

The B-17 will be arriving early. She was originally due in on Wednesday, September 27, but the midweek stop prior to ours fell through; we’re expecting her to arrive around late morning or noonish on Monday, September 25, 2017. All she’ll do then is park and go to sleep, so we don’t expect to need any more help than I can provide. Still, if you’d like to be on hand to say hello and possibly help crew members get to where they need to go, let me know by dropping a line to mary@bardicvoice.com.

Thursday, 9/28 (Media day)

Thursday is a quiet day for the B-17: her only scheduled operation is the media flight (maybe two, if we’re lucky and get a lot of interest!) in the afternoon. Apart from media, she won’t be open for flights or ground tours, and while media folk are welcome to buy souvenir items, the merchandise trailer usually isn’t put into full operation.

We will need a few people on hand from about 12:30 PM until 3:30 PM to help greet media representatives, escort them to the trailer to get checked in for the media flight, assist in aircraft boarding and deplaning, and handle (very small) crowd control to keep visitors to the ramp safe both during and after the media flight operations. We’ll be setting up stanchions and cones to define visitor areas and set off the operating ramp for the remainder of the visit. Three or four volunteers are likely all we’ll need with the bomber for Thursday.

Friday Through Sunday, 9/29-10/1/2017

B-17 volunteers will be needed each day beginning around 8:00 AM until about 5:30 or 6:00 PM. Flight operations with the B-17 usually begin at 9:00 with pre-flight preparation, but we already know this year will be a bit different: we already sold out all the usual Saturday flights (10:00, 11:00, 12:00, and 1:00), so Oshkosh is starting to sell a 9:00 AM Saturday flight! Since passengers are requested to report an hour before their flight time, that means we’ll have at least one early morning when we’re expecting guests to arrive at 8:00 AM. That is NOT typical; Friday and Sunday are likely to be sleepy until 9:00, so volunteers wouldn’t need to be quite so early.

Ground tours usually begin about half an hour after the last flight of the day lands. We advertise ground tours from 2:00 to 5:00 PM, but they could start earlier if we have fewer flights, as often happens on Friday, so we need to have ground tour volunteers available before 2:00.

We need two people in each shift from Friday through Sunday willing to work in the merchandise trailer. This is the one position that has a learning curve, so it would be best if we could have volunteers who could handle full-day shifts in the trailer. The ideal would be two people willing to work all three days, but we know that’s hard. The B-17 tour coordinators need to count up the cash we take in each day; our math has to add up for our Chapter to look good!

It would be a big help if we could have a couple of volunteers each day willing to work inside the terminal building, one at our EAA Chapter 186 table to greet visitors, direct them to the ramp, and talk about EAA, our Chapter, and our various activities, including Young Eagles. The B-17 visit is always a great opportunity to gain new members and raise the Chapter’s visibility! The second indoor volunteer would man the door to the ramp, using a gate card to open the door for visitors going out or coming in without setting off the alarm. We always ask the airport if they’d be willing to deactivate the door alarm, but the usual answer is no, so – the most boring position (sorry about that!) is inevitably carding the terminal door.

The other non-merchandise ground crew volunteer duties in each shift vary depending on whether the plane is involved in flight operations (usually from 9:00 until 1:30) or in ground tours (from after the last flight until the end of the day, usually from 2:00 until 5:30). In each shift, we always need at least three ground crew volunteers, and particularly during ground tour operations, we need at least five. We can always make use of a few extra staff! If you enjoy getting your hands dirty, sign up for afternoon shifts – you could help clean the plane! When we transition from flight to ground tour operations, we need people to help move stanchions and cones to redefine the safe areas on the ramp.

During flight operations – typically in the morning – our ground crew volunteers handle crowd control and assist in getting people on and off the plane. Volunteers are asked to help carry the stairs to and from the plane, handle the chocks, and keep ramp visitors in safe areas.

During ground tours on the B-17, we need at least three volunteers dedicated to helping people on and off the plane, guarding the cockpit, and helping folk understand what they’re seeing throughout the plane. Are you an aviation history buff who can talk knowledgeably about the plane and answer questions? Consider volunteering particularly for the afternoons, when ground tours are usually in full swing! We need at least two additional volunteers to handle crowd control, because people tend to wander out of bounds looking for good photo angles, and if there are a lot of people in line, we’ll need to keep that line organized.

As always when you’re flying planes, weather and mechanical issues can throw curveballs. Normally, we plan to do ground tours each afternoon, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons are our biggest crowd turnout times – but those plans can change. Flexibility in scheduling is a prized commodity! We ask for your phone numbers so we can reach you if we need to adapt to changing circumstances.

EAA 186 Grill: Saturday and Sunday, 9/30 and 10/1

During the weekend’s busiest days, we’re planning on having the Grill operating to sell food and drinks to our visitors. This is always a good money-maker for the Chapter, so having cooks and cashiers is vital! Please take a shift to help our bottom line for the event. If you’d be willing to help out on Friday, just in case we have enough visitors to warrant opening the Grill, drop me a line at mary@bardicvoice.com.

Our sign-up lists for all the shifts are on our Volunteer page on the EAA186.org website http://eaa186.org/volunteers-2/; drop on by and sign up for the times you can work! We’re just one month away from the start of our mission, so – join the flight!

BTW, any and all Chapter volunteers are eligible to sign up for the repositioning flight on Monday, October 2, 2017, from Manassas to Hickory, NC. Depending on weather conditions and the comfort level of the pilot in command, ferry flight passengers sometimes get the opportunity to take the yoke and earn some B-17 left-seat time, so bringing your logbooks is definitely in order! Ferry passengers are responsible for arranging their own transport back to Manassas; folk usually split the cost of a rental car. Repositioning flights are always dependent on weather, mechanical, and crew travel conditions, so the date and time of the flight are subject to change on vanishingly short notice; scheduling flexibility is a requirement. We can typically name up to 8 passengers, although that isn’t guaranteed; it depends on how many crew or additional cargo EAA may need to reposition along with the plane. Our Chapter practice in the past has been to give priority to active Chapter volunteers who haven’t previously had the opportunity to make ferry flights, and I’d like to continue that. If you’d like to toss your hat in the ring for the ferry flight, please drop me a line at mary@bardicvoice.com, including the information about whether you’ve ferried before, and I’ll start assembling the list of potentials. If we wind up with more potential riders than we have seats, I’ll use a randomized computer program to pick the final winners.

I thank you all in advance; Oshkosh loves Manassas because all of YOU make this such a fabulous stop for both the plane and her crew!