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Bill Marcy, EAA 54844, is a World War II veteran, an aeronautical engineer, and part of a team that originally worked to develop the space shuttle. Despite that résumé, one of his proudest accomplishments over the past two decades is his volunteer service at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — specifically what he does at KidVenture.
Bill, who has been an EAA volunteer for 42 years, has focused much of his efforts since the 1990s on inspiring youth to pursue aviation with his “Kiddie Hawk” — a miniature cockpit simulator that he built himself.
“At Young Eagles events, I noticed younger brothers and sisters that were too young to be Young Eagles,” he said. “I had been thinking about some sort of backyard toy for my kids for upwards of 30 years, so I finally worked out an idea, built a model, and it worked.”
It ended up as the Kiddie Hawk, a simulator that helps entertain the little brothers and sisters who are too small for Young Eagles.
“It’s a pretty neat simulator,” Bill said.
Bill originally showcased his simulator in the Vintage area but moved it down to KidVenture when that came about in the late 1990s. It has been there ever since, giving youths a taste of what an airplane cockpit is like.
“First, I explain to them that this is a control stick that controls what the airplane does,” he said. “When they pull back on the stick, the nose goes up. The airplane moves in the direction that stick moves. I let them find that out for themselves. Mostly I just explain to them what they’re doing and what’s happening. One of the important things to me [that] I remember from my very first flight in an airplane — suddenly the world stopped moving, and that still impresses me. I try to impress on the kids that when they’re up in the air and they look down, it looks like they’re hardly moving, just the way they are right now in the Kiddie Hawk.”
While of course Bill comes back to Oshkosh year after year for the airplanes and the camaraderie, his main priority is inspiring kids to learn about aviation and getting that initial spark that could lead to them becoming pilots themselves.
“I gave up flying my airplane here so I could bring the Kiddie Hawk,” he said. “Yes, I could sit around shooting the breeze with old friends all day for six days, but that’s kind of a waste of time. It’s better to be passing on the enthusiasm.”