17 August 2012

Saturday Coffee Hour

Welcome back. When my wife, Vicki, and I were schmoozing at her father’s Saturday morning coffee hour, I got to thinking that you might be interested in attending this weekly gathering.

“Coffee hour” doesn’t really describe it. It’s actually a fly-in, drive-in, coffee-and-baked-goods, talk-about-aviation-and-anything-else meet and greet that runs about three hours. I’ll fill in a few details to help you decide.

Those attending the Saturday coffee
hour drive- or fly-in and discuss just
about anything. (Dogs are welcome.)

Who, Where and What

My father-in-law is known widely as “Muns,” and the farm he’s lived on all his life is near Oshkosh, Wisconsin, home of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The association’s magazine, EAA Sport Aviation, had a wonderful write up on Muns and the coffee hour in its August 2006 issue.

The article, “The Way It Was…Still Is,” by Jim Busha, was aimed at pilots who appreciate grass landing strips, no control tower and the social side of recreational aviation. That pretty much captures what Muns offers every week, except the week that the EAA has its mammoth international convention, AirVenture. (Estimated attendance at this year’s convention, held the end of July, was over half a million.)

The Regulars

Some Saturday morning coffee-hour
regulars, alongside Muns’s
in-progress Wittman Buttercup.

Although the Saturday morning group is quite diverse, the core of the 30 or so folks who attend consists of pilots, with or without spouses or families. Many have flown for decades, logged thousands of hours of flight time, and restored, built or are building their own planes or just about anything. (Muns’s homebuilts include a Baby Lakes biplane, RV-8 and Wittman Buttercup, as well as a Model T Ford.)

Spending time with these fliers is tapping a brain trust of sport aviation. But even if you’re like me and don’t fly or marvel at different aircraft, their intricate parts or the unique functions of each part, you’ll still enjoy the company. Conversations go anywhere, including politics, which is why most of my recent chats were about the heat wave and writing.

Christmas partygoers are still arriving.
Party central--the shop and site of the
coffee hour--is the building in the center.

Most attendees arrive by car. Only one person flew in during our last visit. I’ve seen about eight aircraft parked on the fields, and there’ve been over 30 for special occasions. I’ve heard the Saturday morning Christmas Party is a real shindig, with turkey, beef, fish from Lake Winnebago, and live music, provided by several of the regulars.
The Christmas party crowd
fills the shop.

How it Began

Muns and Vicki’s mother, Shirley, started hosting the coffee hour in the early 1990s, years after they sold off the dairy herd and switched entirely to field crops. Muns attributed the idea and its success to Shirley, who would bake pecan rolls or something equally exceptional every Saturday. Others also started baking or buying, and that didn’t stop when Shirley passed away. On our last visit, there were two homemade cakes, leftover pieces of wedding cake and, of course, doughnuts.

When the coffee hour winds down around noon, a dozen or so attendees often head to a restaurant for lunch. On my visits, it’s been the same restaurant, which seems about right.

Wrap Up

What do you think? If you’re interested and expect to be in the Oshkosh area on a Saturday, let Vicki or me know. We’ll help you find your way to the farm. There’s no need to give Muns a heads up. You’ll be welcome by all, especially if you pick up doughnuts on the way.

Thanks for stopping by.

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