People in business aviation are so lucky. Not only do they get to manufacture, market, sell and fly amazing aircraft; they get to work with some of the best people on the planet.
Naturally, it’s wonderful to see your dad singled out for recognition. As he gave the narrative of his career using his images, he started off by saying, “When I go to a concert, my favorite part is when the artist tells stories so you leave knowing them and their music better. So that’s what I’m going to do tonight.”
The Wichita Aero Club presents its trophy annually to an individual, group or organization with ties to the local aviation community whose exemplary achievements and contributions in the field of aviation or aerospace deserve special recognition. Aviation photographer Paul Bowen accepted this year’s award. Past honorees include the late Velma Wallace, Jeff Turner and Spirit AeroSystems, John O’Leary and Airbus Americas Engineering, Russ Meyer, Al Higdon and Doc’s Friends Restoration Team. Photo credit: Visual Media Group
Whatever the reason, I can’t imagine an industry more defined by its close, trusted relationships. And Dad’s friendships are a testament to that. One of the many stories he told was about a photo he took of Gene Cernan, last man on the moon; Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon; and Bob Hoover, one of the most accomplished pilots who ever lived. Several years ago, Dad found them all chatting in a bar after an intimate gathering they had attended celebrating Hoover’s 90th birthday. While the sight of these three American heroes gathered together is awe-inspiring, the truth behind the photo is that Armstrong and Cernan were standing on either side of their hero, Hoover. Dad was fortunate enough to capture that shot and to consider these men his friends.
Dad reminded us that heroes aren’t only those who’ve been to the moon and back. It’s the pilots who enable him to do his job. The men and women who power this industry from the factory floor to the boardroom. Dad gave a nod to Russ Meyer, Cessna Aircraft Company chairman emeritus and aviation crusader, as his “ultimate hero.” From the comments I heard throughout the night, I know many look up to Dad. I also know what Dad would say about that. Because he said it to the full ballroom at the gala.
“I’m just a kid with a camera pursuing his passion and taking photographs of other people pursuing their passions,” he said. “I have the best job in aviation.”