Saturday, August 02, 2008

From Everywhere

The EAA Airventure celebrates the fact that visitors come from all over the world. They have an international pavillion, which is just a big tent full of trestle tables and chairs, but it's staffed with volunteer interpretators to help out people with language difficulties or just to chat with. Mostly it serves as a place where pilots can meet other pilots and chat with them, just like the rest of the show. I'd been tipped off by my friend to visit the pavillion and register for the international dinner: an evening of free food, drink and dancing. They gave us nametag-tickets for the event and told us to come at noon for the parade. Hey, a parade is fun. We all milled around in the tent and then someone hopped up on a bench with a megaphone and called out country names, one by one in lphabetical order, for us to collect our flags and join up in groups. We were right behind Brazil, I believe, and the whole world knows that the Brazillians know how to throw a good parade. There were about twenty or thirty Canadians in the parade, from Halifax right across to Vancouver. There was some representation from at least seven provinces, including a large Winnipeg contingent representing a local airfield that was basically a well mowed section of someone's hayfield. We all laughed about our stereotypes because our section of the parade kept developing big "Oh go ahead, no after you" gaps in it. There was one lone representative from China marching behind us, but two of the Canadians were of Chinese descent, so dropped back to keep her company and take turns carrying the heavy flag. We laughed some more as we realized that we could theoretically all disperse to support our ancestral countries. It was a short and kind of silly parade, reminiscent of the sort mounted by neighbourhood children. I don't know if anyone but the participants paid any attention to it, but we all had a blast and took pictures of one another and tried to speak each other's languages.

I tried to take in more of the show, but it's so big I didn't do a very good job. I go into a tent and find something that ordinarily would be interesting to occupy me for an hour and then I either spend a hour, and then feel guilty because what else might I have found in that hour, or I rush past because there is more to see. Some of the displays are informational, like a whole huge tent for the FAA where I got some videos and some information about ICAO conformation plans (very gradual, but happening) or a tent for Border Protection, with a dog handler and his charge on the stage as I passed through, on the way to a seminar on US Airline jobs. I didn't stay very long because it wasn't covering anything I didn't know, and if I want to hear pilot whine about their working conditions, I don't need to walk that far to do it. I spent way too much time walking back and forth from place to place. One of my conclusions is that the vendor whose product actually IS a flashing light basically wins the trade show. All the vendors try to attract people to their booths with flashing lights, but the guy who is selling collision avoidance lights has it made. His booth is filled with brightly flashing lights that don't distract people from the actual product.

In the evening I went to the international dinner. Brazilians know how to party as well as parade, and for some reason there are a lot of them here. Along with Canadians, Australians, French, Russians and a guy from Wisconsin who was apparently there because his Argentinian wife taught school to the organizer's kids. An event with Canadians, Australians and free beer would have a hard time not succeeding, so we all had a grand time, even though mosquitoes kept flying into my eyes. We danced the night away.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a good job the interpretators had interpretors to translate.
And yes, I will remain anonimus.

Colin Summers said...

"...for some reason there are a lot of [Brazilians] here..."

I think they make a jet. So I think there are a lot of pilots.

david said...

I don't know a lot about the state of GA in Brazil, but it turns out that they have over 3,500 registered airports, far more than Canada:

http://www.ourairports.com/countries/BR/

A lot of them are grass strips on ranches, suggesting that ranchers do a fair bit of flying.

gps_direct said...

Sounds like that international hookup was not to be missed.

Spent 4 full days there and still didn't get to see all I wanted...
Like I said, it's overwhelming, especially the first time you go.

And I suspect there's plenty you didn't see (and possibly didn't even know was there) like the Ultralight field, the Seaplane Base, the Vintage aircraft area, the EAA Museum or the hands-on welding, riveting, dope and fabric, or fiberglass workshops...

Sorry I couldn't find you, although I did have my eyes peeled for a CL-215 shirt. Maybe next time. You will be going again, won't you?

X-av8r said...

I went years ago when it was held in Ottumwa, Iowa. One of our group had a 1929 KR31 biplane powered by an OX-5 engine. We were on the ramp in preparation for a heritage fly-over. I was just a young guy and I was sitting on top of the engine busily engrossed in oiling the rocker arms and checking the water level in the radiator. I felt some eyes on me and I looked up to see a large semi-circle of older gentlemen just standing there watching my actions, a faraway look in their eyes. I realized that I wasn't the first one to ever do this. That is what the meet is all about. Pilots with a love for aircraft and the chance to share their wonderful stories.