Airplane Obsession

Airplanes have always held a fascination for me. From the time I could hold a pencil I was drawing them on paper. Passenger planes, military planes in dogfights – anything flying was fair game. I used to fill large sheets of paper illustrating stories about air battles. I can remember spending time with a friend who also appreciated flying things, and we would relish in drawing planes in battle, pitted against each other on paper in a friendly competition.

“Black Sheep Squadron” was a television show that aired from 1976 until 1978. The story was based on the experiences of United States Marine Corps aviator Pappy Boyington and his World War II "Black Sheep Squadron,” set in the South Pacific. Of course, an 8- to 10-year-old boy would just eat that kind of stuff up. The F4U Corsair fighting plane was the star of the show, and as a result, many of my drawings started featuring the same airplane.

From drawing airplanes on paper, I graduated to building airplanes out of LEGOs. Some of my fondest childhood memories involved transforming the little platic pieces into these grand flying machines. Those were the days before any special kits and official manuals were published to create such things.

Building plastic models of airplanes with paint and glue soon became another hobby of mine. In fact, I constructed so many that my mother didn’t know where to put them.

These kinds of memories remind me of two authors in this issue – Rich Finzer and Ted Williams. Both men have an interest in airplanes that dates back to their own childhoods. Along with being an avowed history nut, Rich writes in his article “A War Bird’s-Eye View,” “I was there to honor the memory of my dad who served with the 9th Air Force during World War II.” Rich is referring to is the Geneseo Airshow, held annually in July.

Ted followed a slightly different path in his airplane obsession. In the fifth grade, he and a buddy had an opportunity to ride in a U.S. Navy patrol bomber that was in an airshow in Rochester. He would also ride his bicycle to the airport just to watch planes take off and land. In Ted’s article “Addicted to Airplanes,” he states, “I was born in 1944, and grew up in a post-war era, a time when aviation was really a household topic.” Now, Ted builds airplane models that fly, and is passionate about painting pictures of them as well.

Whether an airplane show or museum, or some other event in the Finger Lakes, make sure to bring your children with you to help them create their own lifelong memories this summer.

by Mark Stash

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