For the sake of anyone unable to attend the Chapter’s Barnstormer’s Day two weeks ago, you may be unaware of the surprise that Mother Nature visited upon us during the wee hours of Saturday morning. The complete story of the early morning miracle that an amazing crew of volunteers pulled off needs to be told so you can pass on the saga to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with embellishments of course.
Early Friday evening, our Chapter Vice President, Bill Tobin, and his setup crew began preparing what appeared to be several million fresh eggs for the next morning. While that was being accomplished, Bill Tobin and other crew members constructed a new base to hold and level the 3 large propane powered grills that are used for cooking hash browns, sausages and the aforementioned gazillion eggs. As that project was being completed, Bill Tobin and still more crew members prepared coolers, coffee makers and staging areas where even more volunteers could cook and serve hundreds of pancake breakfasts the following morning. Tables were unfolded, chairs put out, canopies assembled and wash stations placed. An amazing sound system was magically created from bits of bailing wire and several bottle caps, and a few dozen other tasks were completed before everyone turned into pumpkins at midnight.
You can be forgiven for thinking that I’ve mentioning the name Bill Tobin a bit often. I have not, as there appeared to be at least five of him. No one human could possibly be so “everywhere” all of the time. Really.
With things looking good for Saturday’s 8AM opening, Galt was tucked in for the night and everyone went home for a well-deserved rest. Before tucking himself in for the night, Justin Cleland , the airport manager, took a look at the weather forecast and saw, to his horror, that a nasty storm with gusty winds was headed directly at his beloved airport. He lept to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle…sorry, wrong story…actually, he rushed back to Galt to cover up the sound system electronics, arriving before the rain, but after the wind gusts. By the light of the rotating beacon, he could see green and white flashes of destruction all around. All three of the chapter’s 10’x20’ canopies were crumpled, along with one of Joe Feigle’s and several smaller pop-ups. Tables and chairs were scattered and the big circus tent that serves as the dining area was sagging.
Beginning at 5:30 the next morning, a raft of texts and photos were exchanged between Bill, Arnie, Paul, Joe, Justin and others with pictures of the devastation and rushed messages about finding new canopies and straightening up the mess. By 7:30AM, Joe had somehow located and purchased two new canopies while a third was resurrected using pieces from the other two.
Other than a tangle of metal canopy structures discreetly tucked on one side of the maintenance garage, everything appeared entirely normal and ready for business. The circus tent was drawn tight, chairs and tables were righted. At 8AM, visitors began flooding onto the grounds of Galt, oblivious to the preceding night’s catastrophe.
An amazing effort saved the day. It’s impossible to know of everyone in every crew who pitched in to help. Be assured that your contribution hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated. The following names are just a few of the people who helped save the event, enabling EAA Chapter 932 to once again host a highly successful Barnstormer’s Day: Bill Tobin, who is just possibly the hardest working volunteer on earth. (Editor’s Note: If you happen to see Bill over the next few weeks, please speak softly and try not to startle him. He’s still a bit fragile.); Dave Spitzbart, our tireless set-up volunteer, pancake flipper and certified pancake machine mechanic; Deena Schwartz, Bake Sale organizer extraordinaire; Kim Feigel, who helped make the Kid’s Activities area such a great success; Her husband, Joe Feigel who set up the kid’s area and somehow handled emergency tent procurement while still managing the treasury; Chick Clemen, who appears wherever you need him most; Jerry, the graphics guy who needed a GPS just to post his signs; Daniela and Jeremy Knoll who managed ramp operations and were our first responders; Jo Murray, our PHD of breakfast sales; Mike Fay, who helped with setup and found places for all those cars to park; Brian Spiro and Bill Tobin, our Electronic Alchemists, for assembling a truly outstanding, hum-free sound system; and Parker Johnston and his engineer/producer, Jeff, for their excellent Showcase interviews. Special thanks to all of the CAP volunteers, cooks, servers, table wipers and tray washers, and everyone else who helped out by picking up every stray napkin, sticky syrup container, or grass-covered plastic utensil. Last, but certainly not least, a massive round of applause is needed for Chapter Secretary, Paul Sedlacek, who, once again, pulled off the impossible task of planning, coordinating – and rescuing – another Barnstormer’s Day.
Thank you all!