Antique car collection creates "Beetle Mania" at EAA AirVenture

By Millaine Wells, Local 5 News

Published 07/03 2014 05:24PM

Updated 07/03 2014 05:57PM

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) - There is an invasion of bugs at the EAA AirVenture grounds in Oshkosh.

But, believe it or not, they are a welcome sight.

"Everybody knows this is an EAA thing, they like to see them" says EAA Maintenance Supervisor Gary Doehling.

For more than 40 years the collection of almost 40 Volkswagen Beetles have helped EAA staff navigate the roughly 1,600 acres of AirVenture.

"From transportation to aircraft parking, to security and so forth" explains Dick Knapinski, EAA Senior Communications Advisor.

The oldest "bug" is from 1963.

"I think it is kind of a tradition that we are trying to keep alive" says Doehling.

To keep the antiques running like new, a crew spends one full month each year changing the oil, testing the breaks and putting in new spark plugs.

Then the bugs scurry around.

"Some of them put on 500, 600 miles especially those on the flight path where you are in constant movement, and taking things to other volunteers" Knapinski explains.  "While we bring the newest technology here, and some of the newest things you will see in avionics, it is important to have that connection to the legacy behind us".

A legacy painted in rainbow colors, with personality to match the person behind the wheel.

Red is for the highest ranking team members, including EAA's founding Poberezny family.  

Yellow goes to security.

While some of fleet is street legal , not all the bugs have roofs.

"If it does rain you will get very wet, but the wipers do work. So the windshield will stay clean while you are getting wet at the same time" Knapinski says with a laugh.

Years of history, welded together by a team of dedicated mechanics who are happy not to see their pride and joy during the week of AirVenture.

"It is good when they do not come back in the shop" Doehling says.

AirVenture 2014 kicks off July 28th.

Campers are moving in and vendor tents are already being set up ahead of  the annual fly-in.

To find out more click here.

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