Brothers Rob and Will Matthews developed a strong passion for aviation and community at a young age, often spending their free time at the Temora Aviation Museum near their home in Australia. In July 2016, a group of local pilots decided to reward their passion by raising money to send them to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017.
“[They] thought it’d be a good idea to bring them over to Oshkosh mainly because their passion for aviation is so strong,” said Glenn Sheehan, who helped bring the boys to Oshkosh.
Coming from a small community, Rob, 18, and Will, 12, said the first thing that struck them about AirVenture was the size.
“[It’s] a massive scale of things, compared to what we’re used to,” Rob said. “It’s amazing the different people that you meet. … Hearing their stories and what they do in regard to flying. … It’s not something that we really get where we come from. You can meet 100 people a day. It’s a big eye-opener.”
One of the people they got to meet was aerobatic pilot Mike Goulian, who performed in his Extra 330SC. Australian Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall frequents the Temora Airport, and Will and Rob have gotten to know him, too, so Matt arranged for the boys to have VIP access to Mike’s show at AirVenture.
“They got to go up and do some passes with Mike Goulian and meet Mike,” Glenn said. “Mike, I think, had quite a big influence on Will. He was a bit star-struck.”
Will took his first flying lesson last year at the age of 11 and said he hopes to become an aerobatic pilot someday.
Rob soloed on January 26, 2016, and when he gets home, he plans to finish navigation training and get his recreational pilot certificate. His focus for now? Spreading the joy of flight. Both boys said they want to share their passion with other young people.
“It’s not all about doing it for a living, it’s about having fun and getting together as a group,” Rob said.
Glenn said the boys’ desire to connect with others was part of the reason the local flying group decided to start fundraising in the first place.
“One of the things that we noticed very quickly about Rob and Will is that they’re both very passionate about their community, helping their community, but also about getting young people involved in aviation,” he said. “I think one of the major motivations for the group that have raised the money is the fact that if they’re talking to older people like us, it’s not really getting through. These guys here talk to these young people, and instantly they’re on the same wavelength and they’re making sense to them.”
Will and Rob’s first trip to Oshkosh is documented on their blog, RobandWillatOshkosh.wordpress.com.