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If you’ve ever flown into Oshkosh and blown a tire or sprung an oil leak, there’s a decent chance you’ve met Jim Smith, EAA Lifetime 13439.
Jim has been volunteering with EAA since the days of the Rockford, Illinois, fly-ins (1962 to be exact) — all of it with Emergency Aircraft Repair. If your airplane needs a minor repair to get home, Jim and his team of volunteers are the ones you visit.
Jim said the volunteer team may do 250 or so “operations” throughout the week.
“Somebody has a flat tire or somebody has a stuck valve in an engine or an oil leak, needs a new battery, we help loan them tools to do that,” he said. “Every day we watch them land airplanes downwind until they bust one.”
Emergency Aircraft Repair is run by EAA Chapter 75 members. Jim said he truly enjoys the experience of not only assisting an organization he’s passionate about but also helping individual people in need.
“I enjoy helping people,” he said. “The people in the aviation arena are a whole lot different than people in other arenas. The cleanliness, the helpfulness, that type of thing. You don’t see that in other venues. I enjoy helping people. We make friends. I’ve got other folks in this repair barn from all over the country. I go home with a good-pounding heart. It’s neat to do.”