Aerospace education weekend includes Jeff Skiles – “Miracle on the Hudson” co-pilot
La Crosse, Wis. – Students of aerospace history know the story of the Douglas DC-3 and how it revolutionized air travel. Recently, more than 25 Civil Air Patrol (CAP) members from four Wisconsin squadrons watched as those same aircraft are overhauled and modified by Basler Turbo Conversions to meet the needs of today’s cargo and scientific research customers.
This tour, along with a variety of other aerospace-related experiences, was part of the first Oshkosh Aviation Weekend hosted by the La Crosse Composite Squadron and attended by members from La Crosse, Stevens Point, West Bend and Sheboygan Composite Squadrons.
During the weekend, members had the chance to meet Jeff Skiles who currently serves as the vice president for Chapters and Youth for Experimental Aviation Association (EAA). Skiles spoke about EAA, being an airline pilot and his most famous flight when he was the co-pilot on board US Airways Flight 1549; better known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Besides having the chance to meet Skiles, members toured the EAA AirVenture Museum located just across the airfield from the CAP Oshkosh facility where the members stayed. The museum maintains an extensive collection of aviation history and aerospace science related materials.
The members also participated in hands-on aerospace activities under the direction of Major Dave Snyder, La Crosse Squadron’s aerospace education officer. Eight cadets received orientation flights which were provided by pilots from the La Crosse and Fox Cities Composite Squadrons.
In the evening, members had the chance to relax, play games and watch movies. On Saturday they had the opportunity to tour the Wittman Regional Airport tower; which bills itself as the busiest tower in the world during the annual EAA AirVenture Fly-in held there each summer.
Captain Richard Merz, the La Crosse Squadron activities officer, came up with the idea for the aerospace-themed weekend and served as the event’s project officer. A National Blue Beret graduate himself, Captain Merz knew of the Oshkosh facility and knew of all the aviation-related opportunities that surround it. “It’s a great facility, very affordable and it made for a great base to work from in planning all these visits and tours,” stated Merz.