Event Recap – Experience MAF: Chicago

Regional Manager Dina Parris and Advocate Bill Koss

The journey to host a MAF Fly-In the Chicago area began over a year ago as I began contacting the airport manager, the Fixed Base Operations (FBO) manager, and the control tower manager to solicit their support. Our plan was to “Fly In” the MAF Kodiak aircraft and support personnel prior to its use as a static display at Airventure in Oshkosh. Chicago/Aurora Municipal Airport is a controlled “Class D” airspace and a major reliever airport with three runways. It’s also where J.A. Air Center, one of the top rated FBO’s in North America, is located and they graciously offered to host the event at no charge. This was huge because the alternative plan called for an expensive outdoor tent and equipment rental in hot July weather. J.A. Air provided a large air conditioned meeting area, cafeteria, restroom facilities and a 20,000 square foot canopy to stage the aircraft.

I also appreciated Alexis Adams’ ability to organize all the event details. She made the whole process so much easier from identifying key tasks to promotional materials, to the items we needed to purchase in advance. Did you ever work on a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle as a kid? This is one of those times where it felt like everything snapped smoothly into place like the very last puzzle piece. I was amazed at how God worked everything out according to what He desired. Sometimes, I felt like I was just along for the ride and it really was an honor and a pleasure for me to be a small part of this.

Advocate Bill Koss and President and CEO David Holsten

I made it a point to contact the airport, FBO, tower managers every month up to the Fly-In itself. It was great to work with Brian Shepson, Dina Parris and Alexis Adams prior to and during the event. I was also able to also spend time at the event and following morning with MAF president David Holsten, and a terrific group of MAF Mobilizers and many Midwest Advocates working at the venue. What a great group of folks! There were nine flights Friday afternoon and every seat was filled. Alexis said this was the first time we had sold out one of these events.

Development Officer Greg Pyles working the VR set.

On the morning of the event, I was up in the Aurora control tower as Brian Shepson, the MAF chief pilot, was arriving from Oshkosh on short final approach and landed right in front of us. The Fly-In was fun.  In addition to the scheduled flights, there was a demonstration of the short field take-off and landing capabilities of the Quest Kodiak, virtual reality demonstrations, and a presentation by David Holsten, MAF president at the conclusion of the afternoon with food and snacks available for the attendees. Having all the MAF team in my own backyard was truly special for me. It has also opened the door for presenting the story and mission of MAF to a number of organizations in the area. I am looking forward to more Advocate speaking engagements going forward.

Thanks to all of MAF staff and Advocates for making this possible. I’m grateful for your support!

By Bill Koss, Advocate 

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