I attended what was then called the EAA Convention and Fly-In back in 1984 with my grandfather and Dad. The three of us made the drive out here to spend a few days chatting with other pilots and plane builders, seeing the sites and watching airshows. My dad was energized during that trip because he loved flying and airplanes so very much. The trip is most memorable for me because it was the first time that as a teen I felt really close to my dad and that I really "got" his passion for aviation. We'd flown together many, many times and it was always apparent that he loved piloting a plane, but I really saw his passion during that trip. It was impressive and I learned a lot about him those few days.
Since my Dad passed on doing what he loved the most, my sister and I felt that it was only fitting to have him remembered by being included on the EAA Memorial Wall. The ceremony was very nice and respectful. The playing of Taps, followed by the missing man formation overhead, was very touching. I felt really close to my Dad again, though he's been gone since the end of 2011. I knew that he was smiling.
My sister and Mom and nephew and cousin needed to head back home right after the ceremony, so we said our good-byes and then Earl and I headed back to the Jeep, changed into shorts and headed over to the AirVenture grounds. Earl had never been to a "Fly-In" before, and AirVenture is the grand-daddy of all Fly-Ins. It was as I remembered it but much bigger than it was in '84. Earl and I spent the afternoon looking at the displays, watching the planes take off and land and Earl listened to stories of the times I spent at the airport as a kid and all the times I had gone flying with my dad and friends. He's heard the stories before, but he still feigns interest.
The airshow was quite a sight. It amazes me what a talented pilot can do with his airplane or helicopter: planes flipping over tail over nose, pilots maneuvering in seemingly impossibly tight formation, helicopters flying backwards, men skydiving at unbelievable speeds and one man strapped to a four jet engines and a wing to become "JetMan". Awesome stuff, indeed. I think I might have mentioned to Earl at least a dozen times that I really need to get my pilot's license. I try to shrug off this desire to fly, since I think it's just a lingering wish from my teenage years, but I can't shrug it off. The idea of flying us somewhere in something like a Cessna 182 is amazing to me. I get very excited just thinking about it; it brings a grin to my face that my Dad would find to be quite recognizable.
AirVenture is fun for anyone with even a passing interest in aviation and if you're inclined or in the area, I highly recommend the experience.
You'll see lots of people grinning from ear to ear. You'll know they have aviation fuel in their blood.