The Wild Blue Yonder

It makes you want to hop a ride, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s just me! This was taken at a flying circus down at Bealeton, Virginia last fall. It’s a great show, if you’ve never been and a good value. I wouldn’t mind going back if I’m ever in the area again.

Want to know more? You can read about my experience.

It’s too cold for biplane flying around here right now but it sure is fun. It’s much different than any other flying experience and a little like flying in a time machine.

Want to go? Spring would be a great time for a road trip to Bealeton!

Santa, a Biplane, and Something To Be Excited About

Little kids like planes so I was pretty excited to hear that my barnstorming friend Dewey was helping with something special for kids in his community this Christmas. You see, he picked up Santa and gave him a lift to the airport in Springfield, Ohio on Sunday.

Santa and his elf spent that afternoon visiting with youngsters and learning their fondest Christmas wishes.

While Santa was tucked away with a line of kids in a warm airport terminal, Dewey was outside visiting with the kiddos and their parents. He fitted them all with aviator caps and goggles before lifting them up into the plane for photos.

Despite the cold, biting wind you only experience in western Ohio’s flat farmland (I’m from the hills where the wind can’t get up that much speed), groups of kids and adults came trooping outside for their turn with his 90 year old open air cockpit biplane.

I swear that many of them were just as excited to see the biplane as they were to meet Santa. The pilot seemed equally thrilled to give people the opportunity and to talk about the lost art of barnstorming.

He’s good with people and you can tell that there’s little he loves more than sharing his passion with others. It was fun to watch and I was happy to play a very small part that day.

A piece of me wishes I had something to be so excited about. I’m enthusiastic about lots of things and interested in almost any topic but there’s never been one thing that captured my enthusiasm so dramatically. Although, if I did something so cool as barnstorming in a fabulous old biplane, I might be singing a different tune.

Here’s a thought for today. If you have kiddos and you see a spark in them, you see that they’re excited about something, try nurturing that spark. Encourage them to learn and grow with that thing they love so much. It could turn into a career or maybe just a lifelong hobby. Either way, I’m guessing they’ll be happier than the rest of us who just bounce around from interest to interest.

And if Santa is coming to an airport near you, friends, go see him. There’s nothing cooler than seeing Santa climb out of an airplane.

Flying Like A Bird

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It isn’t every day that you have a chance to check something off your bucket list. So when the opportunity presents itself, you have to do it. Even if it’s something that scares you a little. Actually, especially if it’s something that scares you.

b3It has long been my goal to take a ride in a biplane. There’s just something  romantic about these open air planes and the barnstorming that has been done with them since the years following World War I.

I can’t describe it but my heart takes flight a little every time I see one in the air. 

There was an opportunity to take a ride a couple of weeks ago at a hot air balloon festival but I found every excuse in the book to not do it. So when I learned there would be rides given at an airport in a neighboring community, I simply had to go.

Incidentally, the James A. Rhodes Airport in Jackson County was celebrating their 50th anniversary yesterday with a big shindig – cool aircraft on display, some RC flyers, a Model A Club and rides with Dewey Davenport of Goodfolk and O’Tymes Biplane Rides of the Xenia area. 

This was a really fun blue sky day of celebration but it was a big day for me too. You see, part of the reason that excuses were made to not take a biplane ride is that I have a ridiculous fear of heights. I don’t do roller coasters and cringe at the thought of a glass elevator. But I’ve been up in aircraft before – commercial flights, small planes at my local airport and even a helicopter (sans door as I was taking pictures for a newspaper that day) and it’s ok.

But to glide through the air with the wind in your face and nothing between you and the sky? In a 1930 D-25 New Standard that looks like it belongs in a museum?

Never before.

And guys. Wow. It’s fabulous. 

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It probably helps that I had an experienced pilot who is so enthusiastic about his work that I had no choice but to trust him. He’s fantastic. Really. Dewey Davenport is his name and if you see that he’s coming to an event near you, go take a ride. You won’t regret it.  That’s him pictured with me above. And if you’re wondering what’s up with the sign, click here to read about the origins.   Long story short – I have a smart mouth and warped sense of humor.

But this story isn’t really about the plane ride, funny sign or pilot. Sure, the experience was amazing. But it’s really about you and whatever is holding you back.

There has to be something that you’ve always wanted to do, maybe even something that scares you. Please don’t let fear prevent you from doing something that you want to do.

Friends, life is worth living. Go do it. Have an adventure. Go far away. Stay close to home. Do what scares you. Embrace the thing you love most. Whatever it is, do something that will make you smile at the end of this day and every day.

Life IS worth living. Make it what you want. 

This is an area I’m still working on. Truth is, I don’t know what I want my life to look like so I’m just exploring the world as much as possible and doing the things that make me happy as well as the ones that scare me because they often are the same. We’ve discussed this topic here a couple of times before but we all could use a periodic refresher.

I imagine myself to be a kindred spirit of Amelia Earhart, Sheriff Maude Collins and other strong women from history. However, I’m probably a little more closely related to Snoopy versus the Red Barron and maybe Deputy Barney Fyffe! Regardless, I faced a fear and had such a fabulous time doing it that I’m already plotting to take another ride with Dewey someday.

And if you wonder what makes me an authority on this topic, just scroll up and look at that smile. It really was the best day. But this story is going to be a two parter! I checked something else off my bucket list but you’ll have to wait till Monday to read about it!

Want to know more about Dewey and biplanes? Check out his website and his YouTube vlog by searching his name.

Checking Off The Bucket List!

Most of us have a bucket list.

Mine should more or less read “go everywhere and do everything.”

That’s a slight exaggeration as skydiving and swimming with sharks aren’t on the list but it has become important to me that I try as many different things as possible.

One item on my list is to take a ride in an old fashioned biplane like the barnstormers use. You know the kind – it’s open air?

This is sort of an interesting goal for a gal who’s afraid of heights but I’m determined to not allow my fears to hold me back. That’s been the theme of the last year and a half and it has served me well in all areas of life but one.

I had the opportunity to take a ride earlier this month but chickened out and have regretted it ever since. So when I learned that biplane rides are being offered at a nearby airport this weekend, it became clear that it’s time to face the fear and check this item off my bucket list.

I’m wavering somewhere between excitement and terror but am trying hard to embrace the pure joy of anticipation.

I’m sort of an old soul and have a deep appreciation for old cars, trains, trucks and planes. There’s something romantic about these old biplanes and the tradition of barnstorming.

The plane pictured above is the one I’ll be riding in. It’s a 1929! How cool is that? This is the sort of bird you would normally see in a museum and I’ll be flying high above the earth in it in a few days!

What do you think? Would you take this ride? What’s on your bucket list?

All Ohio Hot Air Balloon Festival

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It’s been a busy summer and adventures have been especially plentiful these last few weeks. In fact, it’s been so busy that keeping up with storytelling here has been a real challenge.

The trip to Piatt Castles last week included a detour to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Marysville. I’ve been hesitant to tell you this story because I typically avoid negativity on this blog. There are enough people who seem to think it their duty to point out all the bad in the world – we don’t need me adding to the mix. However, the fact I wasn’t thrilled doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it so the rules are about to be bent a little

Here’s the abbreviated version of this story: the balloons were beautiful, the festival wasn’t so great.

The festival opened in the afternoon the Saturday of my visit. The schedule advertised the arrival of balloons at 4:30 and the balloon launch at 6:30. The website pictured several nice balloons that would be there as well as a lovely image of several balloons in the sky.

When I arrived at 3:30, an enthusiastic crowd had begun to gather but 4:30 came and went with no balloons. In fact, it was close to 7 before we saw the first balloon. I saw people leaving in frustration, disappointed kids in tow because they didn’t want to sit out in the hot August sun for a moment longer. Since it’s held at an airport, there is essentially no shade and few places to get in out of the blistering sun.

This kid seemed to speak for us all.

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I now know how to interpret the schedule – the balloons arrive in trucks by 5 p.m. and they are aired up immediately before launching. This means that balloons were in the air for just a few minutes. Also, it was not several at one time as the website depicted but one or two at a time.

So there’s my complaint.

The good news is that they offer some fun activities for kids and, if festival food is your thing, there’s plenty to eat and drink. The U.S. Air Force was there too and had a Thunderbird jet on display.

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The balloons were pretty, even if some advertised balloons weren’t there. I’m guessing they went up on one of the other two festival days.

Saturday admission was just $10 and parking was $5. They did a lighted launch after dark – although I didn’t stay for that. I had invested a lot of time already and simply wanted to go home.

You could take a biplane or helicopter ride and they were offering tethered balloon rides – although I never saw that actually happen. I was dying to take a biplane ride but couldn’t justify the expense so close to vacation. The opportunity will come again and will make a great adventure for another day.

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On the trip out of town I saw folks with lawn chairs in store parking lots and thought that would be a far better way to enjoy the balloons without the hassle of parking, crowds or expensive bottled water since no outside food or drinks are allowed in.

That would be better for me but maybe not better for you. If you have kids or enjoy the excitement of a crowd this could be a fabulous time for you!!

I don’t want to discourage you from going and supporting the festival but have to be honest that this is not the place for me. If I ever go back, it will either be for the lighted launch or just to enjoy from somewhere outside the festival grounds.

Want to know more? Here’s the link to their event. It will be back next year!! There are other similar festivals in Ohio and I would be interested in visiting another someday.