If you’ve visited the EAA Aviation Museum in the past seven or eight years, there’s a good chance you’ve met docent Lon Nanke, EAA 187526. Lon has been volunteering with EAA in different capacities since around 1980, including as the transportation coordinator at the Seaplane Base during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and at Pioneer Airport when it’s open in the summer months.
But for most of the year, Lon is a regular at the museum, welcoming visitors with a friendly smile and directing them where to go.
“When people come in, you greet them and see if they’ve been here before,” Lon said. “Then you take a map and tell them about the things and everything in here, get them started on a tour. I don’t do tours, but get them on the right way to go, tell them what’s in here and so forth. Then of course, when the summer’s here, you tell them about the Pioneer Airport and going over there, with the youngsters getting Young Eagles rides and so forth.”
Lon doesn’t remember exactly what got him interested in volunteering with EAA, but he’s had a passion for aviation since 1945, when he first started flying, and can remember the first EAA fly-in convention at Curtiss-Wright Field in Milwaukee back in 1953. Since he’s retired, Lon has made volunteering for EAA a daily routine and can be found in the museum constantly, even when he’s not scheduled.
“I’ve always tried to help wherever I could,” he explained. “That’s why I come in. I’m not always scheduled, but I come in. If they’re short, then I work. I enjoy it. I get a little tired sometimes, but I enjoy it. I enjoy the people, they’re all great.”