Today, my brother, Michael Wynne, turns 60. Although few of the aircraft builders we work with have met him in person, I can make a very good case that all Corvair builders are direct beneficiaries of his. My brother has been the largest influence in my life steering me into the mechanical world, and he has demonstrated by example how goals in life are to be accomplished. He is nine-and-a-half years older than me. He is the leading edge of our family and I am the trailing. This is a good analogy to express my brother’s leadership position as the pathfinder in our family. He is also the eldest of all of the cousins. He made everything we have done, going to college, getting married, you name it, much easier to do by the simple example of doing all of these things first.
But my own connection goes far further than this: My love of airplanes was derived from his; I love machines, craftsmanship and tools because he did first; I became a motorhead because he was first. I love GM stuff because he did first. These are just mechanical examples. I love the outdoors and travel because he does. I know every song by The Doors, Hendrix, CCR, Grand Funk and Steppenwolf, bands 10 years before my time, simply because this was music that he listened to, and thus so did I. My definition of what it means to be an American is clearly patterned after his. Normally such blind emulation might lead to trouble later, but not for me, as my brother is an outstanding human being, and the parts of me that are a low quality imitation of him are better than the parts I came up with on my own. I am not the only one in the family who feels this way. The three other kids in our family will gladly concede that he is the best child our family produced.
Above, the six original members of my family (we are all married now), left to right above, Alison, Michael, Mom, Dad, myself and Melissa, at mom’s 80th birthday in 2007.
Above, a photo of my parents on the beach at Coronado, Calif., in 1952. The smiles don’t speak of my father, a young Navy officer in amphibious warfare, having just returned from his first tour in the Korean War. He had left from San Francisco in 1951. My mother, 24 years old, had seen him off and boarded a Martin 4-0-4 for the flight back to San Diego. In flight, the plane had a terrific engine fire on her side. It was a rocky start to a long year, but my mother made the strongest friends with other Navy wives, awaiting and praying for the safe return of husbands from the new war.
The story of my brother’s arrival in ’53 is integral to understanding the history of my family. On New Year’s Eve 1952, my father received an emergency notice recalling him to Korea. My mother, expecting her first child, had the option to return to her caring family on the east coast, but instead chose to stay in Coronado with the other young wives, women who shared the same struggles.