Friday, August 15, 2014

Fly-In Campers - The Spirit of Aviation (Updated)

Rarely do I write about specific parts of the fly-in.  The whole thing is so much fun that it is hard to pick apart.  But, as the event draws near, I find myself thinking more and more about one specific segment; the campers.
Like I said, the fly-in is great fun.  Yet, what I have come to realize is that it is the campers which make the event.  Now I'm not meaning the others aren't important.  What I really intend to say is that it is the Friday night fly-in campers that set the tone of the event.
Friday arrivals are almost always eager and fun.  They cut loose from work early and put forth a special effort to make the fly-in.  On their mind was having a good meal under the stars, watching a movie on the hangar, sitting by the campfire with friends, and waking up early to see every arrival on Saturday.  They are truly intrepid aviators in a time of timidity.
When others look for excuses not to attend, they look for every way possible to be there.  Only the worst of weather keeps them away.  Their planes don't carry emergency kits, their planes are emergency kits. Everything inside accounts for some what-if and every step they make is calculated.  Yet, watch them and you'll see they are seemingly carefree; prepared but not fearful. That's why I enjoy them so much.  They are the living among us.
With all that said, it should therefore be no surprise when I say that as the fly-in Friday rolls around, I'll be watching closely to see how many campers arrive.  They are an aviation bellwether indicative of the truth.  Saturday may bring hundreds of planes, but if Friday is slow I will quietly mourn the loss of aviation spirit.
UPDATE:  This post from last year's fly-in was a favorite of many, including myself.  When I finished it I read the words and thought, "Yeah, that is exactly what I wanted to say."  Thankfully, many understood.  When Friday rolled around, the number of campers to arrive was exceptional.  They even turned out to be almost half of the total number of aircraft on hand.  The spirit of aviation is alive and well.

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