The Camaraderie of EAA Never Ceases to Amaze Me

2:36 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor
Yesterday at Eugene Airport (KEUG), my EAA Chapter 1457 conducted a group photo shoot, bringing about 27 member airplanes together on one ramp to photograph as a large group, and also to shoot individual portraits of owners with their airplanes (and in some cases, their very patient and supportive wives).
Organized by chapter 1457 member and airbrush aviation artist extraordinaire John Stahr – owner, builder and painter of his amazing American Angel RV-8 – this group shoot was challenging on many levels. But as is the case with pilots in general, and EAA members in particular, John received a ton of help from everyone, and the shoot came off without any serious glitches. However, before we could shoot even one pic, we had to get everyone inside the fence at EUG, a typical TSA airport that is completely locked down:

 In our EAA chapter, not everyone is badged to get in the gates at KEUG. So Stahr worked diligently with the airport administration to develop a plan that would allow him to place a sign at one gate, with phone numbers of three 1457 members who were badged. People like me who no longer have a hangar there and therefore no badge, simply could call one of the numbers and get in. Airport admins approved the plan, and notified the FAA tower, but that memo apparently did not climb all the way to the top of that tower, as several early arriving airplanes reported Tower and Ground had zero idea what was going on. We had set the shoot up on the large and empty east ramp, so eventually after a bit of ATC wrangling, all arrivals for the shoot were sent to our corner of the ramp.
This shoot also included a potluck dinner, with the chapter providing chicken and ‘dogs off the BBQ. One member, John Larson, pulled his immaculate Piper Archer out of his oversized hangar adjacent to the shoot ramp, and EAA chapter 31 in Creswell, Oregon loaned is tables and chairs. While members like me worked the cameras, other members moved airplanes around, first amassing them into one giant group shot, before moving them aside so we could shoot individual images without cluttered backgrounds. Stahr rounded up a couple of tall ladders and two large scaffolds on wheels so the photogs could get up high to shoot down on the subjects and their airplanes.
This was EAA camaraderie at its finest, on full display. Everyone pitched in, did something, donated something, or helped in any way they could. I am forever proud to be a member of this exceptional organization as it exemplifies all that is good with general aviation.
One last note: As a photographer on the shoot, I was in aviation heaven shooting all the great airbrushed experimental airplanes that John Stahr has painted for chapter members. There were at least five planes there with full-blown custom artwork, and they were all beautiful. It is quite handy to have one of aviation’s best airbrush artists in your chapter, and I will say this: I doubt you will find a small EAA chapter like ours with as many beautiful airbrushed airplanes as 1457, the South Valley Aviators. Sure, you can find a lot of gorgeous custom-painted experimentals at Oshkosh, but to have so many in one chapter is mind blowing.

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