Page 6 - World Airshow May-Jun 2017
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HUGH OLDHAM: AIRSHOW EVANGELIST




                                    never Volunteer





                             A     nyone  who  has ever  served   daughter out past curfew…twice. Knowing retribution was at
                                                               hand, I volunteered, hoping to influence the assignments. The
                                   on active duty in the military
                                   knows the axiom “never
                                                               mess hall’s grease trap became my specialty. The words “never
                                   volunteer.”                 volunteer” echoed in my mind as I dipped the repulsive liquids
                               I grew up in Fort Jackson South   from that pit.
                             Carolina. As a teenager, I flew model   Now, 50 years into an airshow career, my attitude towards
                             airplanes which we built in the post   volunteering has changed. Many organizations depend on
                             craft shop, started jumping with the   volunteers  for  smooth  operations.  From  hospital  auxiliaries,
                             Fort Jackson Sport Parachute Club,   to school PTAs, to Boy and Girl Scout Troops, to airshows, all
                             and while  still  a  college  student,  flew   depend on a dedicated corps of motivated volunteers.
                             jumpers off Hilton Field, the post   It’s a simple fact that no airshow, civilian or military, could
                             parade grounds.                   operate without the volunteers (aka the Grunts) who do the
                               I knew the proverb and was      functions high and low to make the event successful. It is the
                             determined to follow through while in   volunteers who park the cars, take up the tickets, pick up the
        basic training after volunteering for military service in 1968. Yes,   grounds, and do the countless other vital functions that make it
        that is oxymoronic. I was afraid I would miss Vietnam if I did not   possible for performers to perform.
        get across the pond before hostilities ended. Young, indestructible,   As show producers, it behooves us to value our volunteers.
        and foolish be me.                                                    They are to be treasured, appreciated, and
          I never expected to be sent to Fort     THE VOLUNTEER               acknowledged as the foundation of our
        Jackson for Army Basic Training. I’d gone   EMPTYING THE TRASH        organization. Our volunteers are on par with
        to high school adjacent to the post, hung                             our sponsors, for without one, the other
        out with and dated the daughters of officers   CONTAINERS ALONG THE   becomes moot.
        and NCOs, including the Commanding    FLIGHT LINE IS JUST AS             As performers, we must follow suit by
        General’s daughter. But in the wisdom   IMPORTANT AS WE ARE           understanding that every volunteer is a
        only understood within the deep recesses   IN OUR FANCY FLIGHT        strategic and integral partner in ensuring our
        of the five-sided puzzle palace, it was to   SUITS AND PERSONAL       success. Too often we get so wrapped up in
        Jackson where I was to be turned from a     GOLF CARTS                our part of the overall effort we forget that
        1960’s semi-hippy into a soldier.                                     the volunteer emptying the trash containers
          The first day of training I witnessed                               along the flight line is just as important as we
        what happens if you raised your hand (volunteered). Our senior   are in our fancy flight suits and personal golf carts.
        drill sergeant asked if anyone in our company had a Ph.D.? One   No matter our high position on the show’s organization chart,
        recruit, thinking that his higher  education would afford him   or with our name getting top billing on the airshow poster, we are
        special status, raised his hand. He was immediately assigned a   standing on the shoulders of every volunteer working the show.
        Post Hole Digger for the remaining time whenever “detail duties”   And to all the unsung volunteers working to make the show
        were handed out.                                       a great experience, we appreciate you knowing full well we are
          I planned on keeping a low profile, but it was not to be. Our   nothing without you. Thanks be to the Grunts!
        Field First recognized me as the young man who had kept his


























                                          WORLD AIRSHOW NEWS   6  MAY/JUNE 2017
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