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sm170626-F-EK235-847.jpgAviation enthusiasts visiting the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh this year may have experienced the Wisconsin National Guard’s increased role in the event.

The Wisconsin National Guard became involved in the early planning for this year’s AirVenture event, aiming to better support transient, show and static military aircraft requirements. Additionally, Wisconsin National Guard missions at this year’s event include asset protection, fire suppression standby, military aircraft maintenance, weapons of mass destruction deterrence and networking with numerous agencies.

The Wisconsin Air National Guard provided most of the Wisconsin National Guard’s support for AirVenture Oshkosh, as well as security forces members from bases in Illinois, California and New York. Members of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team — a joint Army-Air full-time response team for emergencies or terrorism events involving weapons of mass destruction or toxic industrial chemicals — were also on hand, as well as a member of the 32nd Military Police Company.

sm170626-F-EK235-559.jpgAir Force Secretary Heather Wilson also was on hand July 26-27. Her visit to Oshkosh comes at a time when the service is facing a pilot shortage, while major airline hiring continues to increase. The Air Force is pursuing a variety of initiatives to retain current pilots, but new pilots will need to be trained in the coming years.

She met with commercial innovators working to advance unmanned technology and advanced simulation.

“We need to engage the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators,” Wilson said. “We need to innovate faster than the enemy, and a lot of that innovation is going to be coming from outside the Air Force. We need to get where they are and not make them come to us through a bureaucratic process.”

During her visit, Wilson also met with the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders, EAA Chief Executive Officer Jack Pelton, and presented the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz award to Wisconsin Civil Air Patrol cadet Noa G. Bender.

EAA’s AirVenture at Oshkosh is one of the world’s premier events for aviation enthusiasts, drawing more than a half-million people every year.

Some information for this article was provided by the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs office.