Tag Archives: aviation

An AvGeek’s day off…

So I woke up this morning without my alarm at 7. It’s amazing how on work days when my alarm goes off at 6:30, I can be so unwilling to get out of bed and get going, but today I was ready to go without any prompting.

Since I started A&P school, I have had precious little free time and even less days where I truly have no obligations or anything to do. Today is one of those days.

I have been looking forward to this all week, no work, no school, no volunteering, no other obligations to attend to, this was going to be a glorious day of sitting around on the couch watching football and catching up on some much needed R&R.

So as planned, I plopped myself down on the couch. Since it was only 7 AM and there’s no football to watch yet, I decided Netflix was the next best option. I scrolled through Netflix until something caught my eye, and I turned it on.

Halfway through the movie I was uncomfortable, not due to my couch (truly the most comfortable couch ever. Not a hyperbole), not that the movie was bad (the opposite actually, it was better than I thought it would be), but I felt like I should be doing something, anything really.

Have I really been working so hard lately that I cant even sit down and turn off for an hour and a half?

It would seem so.

So… what to do? What would satisfy me?

Obviously aviation is the answer.

Luckily, here in the Miami Valley, there’s never a lack of aviation related things to do. Living in the epicenter of the National Aviation Heritage Area has its perks for a certified #AvGeek. So this shouldnt be an issue.

The next criteria is something with some good photo ops. I’ve been trying to be more active on Instagram lately, so I need to replenish my stockpile of unposted airplane photos. I’ve had some great opportunities in the last couple years to get some great aircraft photos, but there’s only so many times you can post a different angle of the same plane before people start unfollowing.

The last self imposed criteria is that it needs to be something new. As much as I love the National Museum of the Air Force or the Champaign Aviation Museum, I need to expand my horizons, so to speak.

There is one place that I think will satisfy all of these conditions, a place that is important in aviation history, it’s close(ish), and most importantly it’s one of the few aviation history sites around here that I have yet to visit.

I’m talking about the the WACO Museum at historic WACO Field in Troy, Ohio.

The WACO company was founded shortly after WWI and operated through 1947 building civilian aircraft designs, and during WW2, perhaps the most famous American assault glider used by allied airborne glider troops, the CG-4.

I am looking forward to my visit, and I hope that I can come away with some great photos and stories to share.

I said the other day on Twitter that jumping head first into aviation has been the best decision for me, and something that I should have done a long time ago. I am busier than ever trying to work to pay the bills while I follow my aviation dreams, despite being super busy, never having any free time, not being able to spend a lot of time with my friends, or indulge in any of the other activities that I enjoy. Despite all of this, I think I am overall, much happier than I was before I started this journey. This give me hope that if I follow my path, opportunities will present themselves where I will be able to pay my bills and chase my dreams doing the same things. This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned listening to lectures and keynotes about social media and marketing lately. Yes, I’ve learned a lot about the subject, but the biggest take away is do what makes you happy. Life is too short to not chase dreams.

Keep chasing and be open to those opportunities when they do come.

A heck of a lesson in self discovery I’ve had on a day when I was supposed to turn my brain off for a while.

Keep an eye out for the posts on Social about the WACO museum. You can follow me on Twitter @RichardRSnell and Richard Snell on FB and Instagram.

Until next time, keep chasing dreams my friends.

The Persistent Mission of Living Aviation History

Today the CAF’s B29/24 Squadron posed a question on social media that I felt warranted an answer that was longer than the 140 characters of Twitter (look! I already did), or the attention span of a comment on Facebook.

The question: “We know why WE think what we do is important, but why do YOU think it’s important for us to tour with these aircraft?”

Now that you’ve asked…From the earliest times, man’s desire to take flight has captivated generations of dreamers and innovators. From the mythos of the ancient Greeks, Leonardo da Vinci, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, Otto Lilienthal, Samuel P. Langley, and every other aviation pioneer, the dream of aviation persisted for millennia and spanned continents and oceans. When the Wilbur and Orville Wright finally perfected the art of heavier than air flight, they successfully realized the dreams of the generations that came before.

In a little over a century since the Wright brothers’ first short flight on the sand dunes of North Carolina, the aviators and engineers that they empowered have been able to take men as far as our dreams have dared to go. The rapid progression of aviation technology has left a rich legacy and heritage that aviation museums all around the world strive to preserve every day.

This preservation is essential. The rapid advances in aviation technology and aeronautics in the first century (and continuing into the 2nd) since the Wright brothers means that there is a very broad base of knowledge to preserve. The cutting age of aviation today, both military and civilian, bears very little witness to the world of aviation even 30 years ago. It is nearly impossible to for a young person today growing up in the age of 777s, A380s, F22s, and F35s, to truly understand the reality of aviation 75 years ago.

I have a bookcase full of biographies and memoirs written by and about the young men of World War 2 aircrews telling their stories. I have spent 25+ years dreaming about aviation during the 2nd World War, and it’s hard for even me to wrap my head around the realities of aviation during that period.

Aviation during this time was at the cutting edge of technology and created extremely elegant solutions to questions of materials, computing, navigation, aerodynamics, etcetera, that came from every corner of science and engineering with none of the digital help that we receive today.

Aviation museums face the interesting juxtaposition of relating a story of analog technology in a digital age. These museums are continually attempting to find and carve out their place in the growing digital (and digitized) environment of the 21st century, while at the same time needing to maintain their roots in the cutting edge of technology of the 20th century in order to effectively portray the history of aviation.

There are great institutions all over the country (and the world) such as (to name a few) the San Diego Air and Space Museum, The Kalamazoo Air Zoo, the National Naval Aviation Museum, The Strategic Air and Space Museum, and (the museum that I volunteer for) The National Museum of the United States Air Force, that preserve this rich history using static displays of aircraft and other artifacts to relate this aviation story. I believe that while these institutions are a great resource and are able to preserve the history, educate the public, and inspire interest in aviation and other STEM topics, they are not able to fully allow their visitors to fully embrace the experience of what aviation was like.

My understanding and appreciation completely changed the first time I was able to be on the ramp as B-25s started up and taxied out for a sortie, and changed again the first time I was able to climb up and through a B-17, or a B-24, or a B-29. I’m sure it will change again completely if I am ever fortunate enough to be able to be a passenger on one of these, or another aircraft of the period. My experience is not unique. This same thing happens to hundreds of people every day.

These hands on experiences that fill in the gaps of the memoirs and museums are only possible due to the dedication and mission of the organizations that are able to dedicate themselves to the operation and display of this living history. The vision and passion of people like Edward Maloney, Robert and Caroline Collings, Paul Allen, and Kermit Weeks (just to name a few) make possible the organizations such Planes of Fame, The Collings Foundation, The Flying Heritage Collection, Fantasy of Flight, the Texas Flying Legends, Liberty Aviation Museum, the Yankee Air Museum, the Historic Flight Foundation, Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, the EAA, the Commemorative Air Force, and many, many, many others.

Every year, this ever growing group of (mainly volunteer) aircraft owners, pilots, maintainers, and other logistical support are able to offer to the public all around the country (and world) the opportunity to experience the living history of aviation.

In a year where we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain (an aerial battle fought without any ground forces being directly engaged that arguably decided the fate of a nation [and possibly the world]), and at a time when we are rapidly losing the generation that gave us these magnificent flying machines (and thus their first-hand knowledge of them). It is more and more important to be able to have these experiences to round out the understanding and memory of aviation history.

As Richard Bach eloquently wrote in his novel, A Gift of Wings, “like no other sculpture in the history of art, the dead engine and dead airframe come to life at the touch of a human hand, and join their life with the pilot’s own.” In my experience this union also extends to those who are witness as well.

This was a long way of saying thank you for enriching the world of aviation and aviation history.