I have been a faithful member of Piper Flyer Association ever since my first issue arrived in our mailbox almost a decade ago.
I can vividly recall a recent issue in which publisher Jennifer Dellenbusch’s words addressed how closely intertwined we are as an aviation community in her monthly column, “The View from Here.”
In the issue I am recalling (“Thanks,” November 2012), Jen briefly touched on the spirit of camaraderie we enjoy once we decide to join this family of aviators. The common bond we all share, regardless of our specific area of interest, is that we simply cannot imagine our life without aviation. I have reflected on this much over the years as I meet and greet new people from all walks of life that share a passion for flight with the same intensity that I do.
Most of us fly for the same reason: we simply cannot comprehend life without the freedom to fly when and where we please. It is immaterial whether we pull the airplane out of the hangar and fly for business or in pursuit of that perfect hundred-dollar hamburger, the thrill is still the same each time we taxi onto the runway, advance the throttle and feel the unrestrained euphoria associated with our aircraft breaking free of its earthly bonds as we commit aviation once again.
The common bond we all share as aviators is reinforced each year with the annual migration to Oshkosh. As part of Cherokees to Oshkosh we have met a number of wonderful people, and Karen and I were looking forward to reuniting with many of them once again.
Without exception, these individuals love aviation and want to include and encourage more people to join our fold. Our immediate Cherokees to Oshkosh group consists of people from all walks of life that would most likely not interact with one another socially; however, the passion for aviation becomes the common denominator and has created friendships without equal. I have no problem referring to them all as “family.”
Speaking of friends and family, Cherokees to Oshkosh would still be nothing more than a recurring daydream if not for the encouragement and support of our first and most supportive sponsor, Piper Flyer Association. (Aw, shucks. Thanks, Terry. —Eds.)
Waupaca Airport manager Pete Andersen’s enthusiasm for aviation is infectious, and it was clear when I first met him in 2010 that he wanted to help Cherokees to Oshkosh in every way he could. Each year since, Pete has amazed us with fresh ideas that enhance the Waupaca airport and the Cherokees to Oshkosh experience.
For example, Pete worked with EAA and FAA to create an aerobatic box in Waupaca. This was done with the idea that the airshow performers would come to Waupaca to practice in a relaxed environment but still retain a close proximity to the big show in Oshkosh. They would stay in Waupaca hotels as well as frequent other establishments within the city.
The advance team of performers did reach an accord with Pete, and it was the experience of a lifetime for the 2012 Cherokees to Oshkosh team to be able to interact so closely with them.
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