Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Ripon Republican

photo 1I recently had the pleasure to attend the world’s largest general aviation airshow along with a couple of friends. Airadventure, more commonly known in the aviation community as “Oshkosh,” is an annual gathering of everything and everyone remotely connected to aviation. It is put on by the EAA, the Experimental Aviation Association. I once had the chance to see Bob Hoover, Chuck Yeager, Greg Boyington, and other lessor known but equally heroic WWII pilots all in the same room and competing for a chance to tell their story. That was thirty years ago and material for another blog.

One of the friends who joined me on the trip is a former U2 pilot and his has plenty of stories of his own.

During the week-long event, the airport at Oshkosh becomes the busiest airport in the world—nearly 10,000 airplanes will be on the ground at any given time. In order to accommodate such a heavy flow of aviation traffic, hundreds of air traffic controllers volunteer their time. And the FAA issues a temporary tower permit to the local airport. At least that’s how it used to be.

Oshkosh almost didn’t happen this year. About two months prior to the event’s opening day, the FAA notified the EAA that the permit to operate the temporary tower for one week would cost $447,000. The reason given was sequestration. Sequestration is supposed to be a 10% reduction across the board. Does this mean that $447,000 is 10% of the annual cost to the FAA for the Oshkosh fly-in?

Fortunately for the tens of thousands of people from every state in the union, and over a hundred countries, who’d already made arrangements to attend, EAA, under protest, signed an agreement with the FAA, and the show went on. The FAA’s extortion of the EAA was the talk of the show.

What does all of this have to do with a Ripon Republican? I’m glad you asked. Harrison Ford attended college at Ripon College. Is Harrison Ford a Republican? I have no idea, just thought I’d toss that in to increase the chances of this blog being found by search engines. Historic Ripon, Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Republican Party. Way back in 1854 when a group was forming in an effort to abolish slavery, they needed a name. Alvan E Bovay suggested “Republican” during a meeting at Ripon’s little white school house. Four months later, the name was officially adopted during a meeting of this same anti-slavery group in Jackson, Michigan. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Another thought just crossed my mind. Strom Thurmond still holds the record for the longest filibuster. I can’t recall just now what it was he was opposing. I probably could have left this part out.

It just seemed poetic that after attending the biggest aviation event in the world, put on by volunteers, and almost cancelled due to politics, that I should happen upon a historical roadside marker and a little building of such historical significance.

I once heard that a failure to learn history leads to the repeating of history, and at the time it sounded preposterous. And now, I see that it’s too often true. Facts are stubborm.

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