Geoff Downey, EAA 105011, has been volunteering at AirVenture for nearly 30 years, with the vast majority of it as the rotorcraft chairman. He was recently announced as a 2019 EAA Volunteer of the Year. Over the years, Geoff has ceaselessly tried to improve the experience and safety for pilots and builders who attend AirVenture and the rotorcraft area. When Geoff learned he’d been selected as a Volunteer of the Year, he was in disbelief and responded with a polite, “You really need to double-check this!”
“After that, when it became real, still not knowing the scope of this, I was honored and humbled to even be considered,” Geoff said. “One reason this thought was so crazy is I’m small potatoes, as I say, on the food chain of importance. When I was speaking of this with a friend, I said with a smile I must have gotten some points on how many clothes I have with EAA on them. My friend smiled and agreed.”
He said this award is accepted on behalf of the rotorcraft team and all of the volunteers who get it done.
“I have the best people in the world who get our flight operations done safely, along with all of the great pilots who come each year,” he said.
As far as what brings Geoff back every year, it’s primarily the camaraderie he feels with his fellow volunteers.
“I guess everybody picks out their own reasons and why they come back, but I think one of the stronger reasons is you see people from all over the world that you only see once a year, so it’s really a homecoming situation,” he said.
He said AirVenture is kind of like a family reunion or gathering.
“You get to see everybody again,” he said. “You will see stuff here you may not see anywhere else. It’s a family place where kids can see the world of aviation right in front of them. When one is volunteering here, it’s neat to meet friends from all over the world you have met over the years that you see again. It becomes an extended family gathering for many.”