The Air Show
Last Sunday was Father’s Day. As it turns out I am not anybody’s father…that’s something you’ll get to read about when Side Door To Heaven is ready for publication…but there was a lot going on for me anyway. Out at the airport the Olympic Flight Museum has been putting itself together from the ground up over the years, and recently they have been presenting a well organized air show on Father’s Day weekend. I was there the whole time, as a part of the show.
This air show is mostly about World War Two era airplanes and artifacts along with a healthy shot of vintage ambience . Come here and you can see a REAL P-51 Mustang, a REAL B-25 Mitchell bomber, REAL PT-13 and AT-6 trainers and a host of vintage classic civilian airpanes. You can get up close and personal, smell the hot oil from the old radial engines and doped fabric covering in the warm sun, and watch and listen and get wonderful prickly twitches of excitement down your back as those engines rumble and growl to life and the planes FLY.
The main hangar is open and spilling over with displays of more vintage airplanes and walls full of aviation-themed artwork and long tables overflowing with exquisitely built flying models of even more classic airplanes, and everywhere you turn people who know about all this stuff and will jump at the chance to explain it to you, point out the subtle details, share the history…
This year I was part of it…again…like so many years before, and I got to thinking that I have been there in just about all the roles one might get to play in a place like this. This year I was invited to display several of my radio controlled flying scale models of vintage fighter planes…I brought out a World War I Sopwith Camel, a World War II Messerschmitt 109, and a Korean War F-86 Saberjet. In between seesions of explaining that yes, they really fly and yes, I built them myself, I’d take a break outside to watch whatever might be in the air just then. That’s when I caught myself reflecting on how many times I have been in places like this and how many unusual things I have done here.
I have lost count of the times I have been one of those guys with the awesome model airplanes, as often as not the organizer and lead pilot when we flew those models as part of the show. I have also lost count of the airshows and pilots’ conferences and meetings where I have been on hand as an artist to display gallery-quality aviation themed paintings, both to add interest to the show and to attract customers for more of my work.
That’s not all. I have been out on this very same tarmac apron with my own airplane…not as a show performer, but as one of a dozen or so owners of lovingly restored classic and antique aircraft that flew in early in the morning to park in a special area and add historical perspective to the event. I remember what it feels like …as a pilot…to taxi back past the crowd after the classic airplane formation fly-past .
All perfectly ordinary, right? Couldn’t anyone do those all things whenever they wanted to?
It has taken me a long time to realize that in fact most people could not do all those things, that there truly is something imperfectly ordinary about me, and that I have an obligation to other gifted children to share what I have learned. That’s what my work is all about.