The Value of “Showing up”

Builders ,

We are now starting a new year in aviation. In another week, I will put up a schedule of Colleges and events for this flying season. We have many builders who will attend these events, travel to shows, and even make the pilgrimage to Oshkosh. They know what I leaned long ago: To make progress on your path in aviation, you can’t just sit at home and wait, you have to “Show up”.  

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Above, a favorite photo of mine is pinned to my shop wall with a red thumb tack:  Grace and I stand with our friend Gustl in front of his soviet AN-2 Biplane with a 1,000 hp radial. It was the winter of 2000. We decided to go ‘camping’ at a small antique fly-in. 66′ of wingspan with leading edge slats allowed us to fly this monster into the small strip carrying two pickup truck loads of coolers, a giant gas grill, lawn furniture, a picnic table and tents. Why did we go camping that weekend? Because we decided that when something good was in the works, we were going to show up for it, not hear about it later. 

( This is the aircraft from this story: Thinking of Mike Holey, an Aviator and a friend. )

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365 days in this year, and 5 of them have already gotten away. 368 days ago I wrote this story: 2015 Your year in aviation? Did you read it? Did you promise yourself that you were going to make this one count, but instead settled for another trip around the sun looking Facebook memes and watching ridiculously partisan TV election news?

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After 28 seasons in flying, I know what changes the heading from stagnation to inspiration: Simply Showing Up. Almost all of the good things I have ever done in aviation came after my awareness that aviation doesn’t happen inside one’s house, that aviation will call you, but it doesn’t send a limo with a gold plated invitation, and there is nothing like being present, in the company of good people, when aviation is taking place in reality, not at Unicorn international airport in Cyberville, to motivate you to aggressively pursue your own goals and dreams.

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Want an example? My friends thought the drive to Leeward air ranch in Ocala was too far from Daytona Beach, but I didn’t the day this happened: From The Past: With Steve Wittman 20 years ago today. Our events in 2017 will come, and they will go, this is inalterable; builders, real,  positive, traditional builders will come to these events and have a great time, just as they have in the past. The only variable is if you will join us, or just read about it later. Take your pick, it’s your life.

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As of tonight, we have four slots left for Corvair College #39: 19 more spaces for CC#39, Barnwell SC, March 2017. We have had this college sign up open for 6 months. It is a big college, but there was a time where I thought Colleges might fill up in a week. What I learned over time was there are many people who profess to love homebuilding, but far fewer you practice that faith. Since the events are free, I have no monetary stake in the attendance, since I have been in aviation a very long time, I already have a lifetime supply of friends, and many of them will be there. However, if your personal motivation in aviation needs a course correction, decide now, that you will show up and make your year in aviation one to be remembered.

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Parting thought:

One of our builders sent me a link to a tread on the homebuilt biplane forum. The subject was a guy saying he was thinking about putting a Corvair on a biplane. In spite of a couple of guys writing in to say they had Seen Jim Weseman’s Celebrity fly and it worked well, and others pointing out they had seen Corvairs fly Piet’s at Brodhead, There were a half dozen super negative comments by people so proud of their thoughts they were unwilling to use their full names. Two of the commentators address boxes showed they had made more than 5,000 comments on that forum alone. Want to know what their home airport is? It’s Unicorn international, where nothing real ever happens.

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-ww.

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