Aviation Indoctrination

Growing up, I had the privilege of having a father who was a private pilot.  This meant I was surrounded by aviation from a young age.  I spent many weekends at the local airport with my dad helping him wash his planes, hanging out with the local AOPA club, and flying around the county where we lived in northeast Arkansas.  My family took very few road trips; instead we traveled to most of our vacation destinations in our plane.  One summer when I was about 12, my dad and I flew across the country in his Aeronica Champ to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show in Wisconsin.  Camping out at night under the wing of the fabric-covered, 2-seater plane with a hand-cranked wooden propeller and no modern avionics, we were flying in a barebones style reminiscent of the barnstorming days of aviation early in the 20th century.  I'll never forget it.

I was my dad's co-pilot long before I could drive a car, and if I have one regret in life it's that I wasn't able to finish earning my private pilot certificate before I went to college.  Ever since I left home at age 16 to attend a boarding school, I have been a near-perpetual student with no time or money to spare for the heavy investment of earning my wings.  I have pledged to myself that this will change in 2011, but it won't be easy.

Now I'm 32 and have a son of my own.  I want him to share the same love for flying that I do.  This past weekend, I took my son Henry and wife Holli to the Kaneohe Bay Air Show.   The air show was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of aviation in Hawaii and was the perfect opportunity to let Henry explore all kinds of exciting aircraft, just like I did when I visited air shows as a kid.  He can't stop playing with his airplane toys and talking about how he walked inside cargo planes, helicopters, and even tanks.  Here are a few pictures:

Henry sitting in the pilot's seat of a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules.
Henry takes the controls of a Republic RC-3 Seabee seaplane.
Henry tries to strap in to a Marines CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter.
Henry explores the interior of the Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III.

Henry wasn't too interested in watching the aerobatic performances, but I made it a point to look up and snap some pictures as often as I could.  The announcer even mentioned astronauts a few times, naming all of the Mercury Seven, comparing the T-38 trainer that NASA astronauts fly with other fighter jets, and describing how aerobatic pilots must train for and endure G-forces similar to astronauts.

Hank Bruckner flies the CAP-10C.
Greg Poe flies the Fagan MX2 ethanol-powered plane.
Jacquie B. Airshows flies the Red Eagle Pitts biplane.
Chuck Aaron, the only FAA-certified helicopter stunt pilot, flies the Red Bull BO-105 CBS helicopter.

The Navy's Blue Angels were the centerpiece of the air show. Seven of the signature blue Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft had flown for five and a half hours to reach to Hawaii from California.  They were accompanied by two tankers that refueled each jet 10 times!  Unfortunately, the Blue Angels didn't perform until the end of the day as the finale after we had to go home (Toddlers can't last all day at an event like this.).  However, Ryan Ozawa recorded and edited some excellent video of the Blue Angels performance using only his iPhone4.  Enjoy!


Amnon I. Govrin said…
That looks so exciting!

Regarding the pilot license, I think that with your past experience it should take you a lot less time and money than unexperienced people (like me).

As for the air show, it looks amazing.

Does Holli share your flight enthusiasm?
BrianShiro said…
Hi Amnon, unfortunately, Holli doesn't really share my enthusiasm for space or aviation.

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