It happens every year. A landing mishap renders an airplane stranded. A flat tire renders an airplane immoveable. A dead battery renders one a static display. Things break. If things had a Bill of Rights, their first bullet point would be the right to break. It can be stressful when things break, even more so when your thing breaks away from home, away from your tools and away from your ability to fix it on your own time. If your thing should happen to break at AirVenture, you’re in good hands.
EAA Chapter 75 Repair Barn
Volunteers from EAA Chapter 75, for over 50 years, have operated the Emergency Aircraft Repair facility by the Hangar Cafe, near the mid-point of Runways 18-36. No so much a repair facility in the classic sense, their mission is to provide tools, support and a degree of technical assistance to aircraft owners (or their agents) to facilitate a repair, not perform the repair. While they may turn a wrench or change a tire, it is done under the supervision of the owner or an agent appointed by the owner who assumes all responsibility for the suitability and airworthiness of the repair work. While it may sound that I gave them great credit for their service and then took it away, I assure you that is not the case. They have a well-equipped shop with hand and powered tools to loan, they have contacts to help you quickly secure needed parts, and they are mechanically inclined with great troubleshooting skills. They are volunteers. Think of them, if you will, as AAA.
When I spoke with them I asked them to expand on the bright green information card they provide to everyone who registers their aircraft at AirVenture. If you have an issue you can contact them directly (920-230-7795) or find a flightline volunteer who will get you in touch with them. When contacted, they will want to know your location, what kind of airplane you have, your N-number and your cell phone number. Whenever possible, they try to resolve your issue at your airplane rather than move it to their corral. If they can’t resolve the issue at your airplane, then they like to have it in their corral where tools are plentiful and readily accessible. Speaking of tools, loaning them out for owner-performed repairs is one of their primary functions. Seldom, I was told, does a tool not return. Sometimes they return in the mail, with an apology letter.
If your repair requires a logbook entry and sign-off, you’ll need to find an A&P, as that the chapter does not do. Nor do they offer advice. All decisions are left to the judgment of the aircraft owner or their appointed agent.
With years of experience, they’ve identified the three primary causes for needing their services; flat tires, dead batteries and fouled spark plugs. For these issues, they did offer advice. Bring a spare inner tube. But if you don’t, most common tube and tire sizes can be sourced locally, or through their close relationship with Aircraft Spruce, in a day or two. If you have a dead battery, neither they nor the local FBO will jump start your aircraft (out of safety concerns) but they can bench-charge your battery once it is removed from the airplane. The advice they gave is to make sure your master switch is off and you don’t spend too much time showing off your avionics suite. The third cause for breakdown they highlighted was fouled spark plugs. By nature of AirVenture’s expansive venue and the possibility of being delayed while taxing, they urge everyone to lean the mixture while taxiing. That will go a long way toward preventing fouled plugs.
If you experience something more than breakdown—something that assures your airplane is grounded until proper repairs can be made—you will probably be put in touch with Myers Aviation. Myers Aviation, a full service repair and restoration facility, has been operating on the east of Oshkosh’s airport for more than three decades. They have the skill, experience and equipment to recover and transport and secure a disabled aircraft until proper repairs can be made or ground transportation to your home field can be arranged. No one wants to see the Myers Aviation crew come for their aircraft, but if they do, know you are in good hands.
Other Pilots and Exhibitors
Few kit plane manufacturers bring parts to AirVenture, but touch base with the maker of your aircraft if they are on site and you need assistance. They may have what you need or the ability to expedite a design-specific part to the AirVenture grounds. General vendors like Aircraft Spruce, Wicks Aircraft and the plethora of others may have the hardware or raw materials needed to facilitate a repair. Finally, nothing will rally help faster than letting fellow builders and pilots know your plight. One may be carrying the spare part, that bit of knowledge, or the unique tool you need to get your airplane safely home.