Veteran Airshow Fans

I overheard the Chair of the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), Bob Meder, say, “You can tell who the veteran airshow fans are. They’re the ones not paying attention to the show.” I thought about it and concluded he is right, the airplanes buzzing overheard are only a backdrop to what is really important at any gathering of people. The gathering can be a church gathering, motorcyclists riding together, artists and writers at a conference, anglers heading out in a boat, or in our case, a bunch of pilots hanging around an airport talking about airplanes and telling tales.

On reflection of Bob’s statement, I thought back across the decades called my life. I remember coming to Sun N Fun as a very young man in my early 20s. I remember the excitement with watching the aerial performers wowing the crowd. I remember ogling and ahhing while inspecting the field of homebuilt aircraft. I remember sensing amazement after inspecting the antique airplanes on display.

Back then, as with many young people, I truly did not know what was important.

What is truly important are the people. Not people in general, but those who matter to you in your life. It is the relationships, the brotherhood, the companionship of friends that is the most important thing about any gathering of humans. The airplanes, motorcycles, boats, cars – whatever the venue – only provide a canvas for painting the scene of who and what is important in our lives.

In the case of airplanes, many times it is a flight instructor who becomes central in our penchant for airplanes and flying. There are also many technicians who have taught us much about how to take care of those airplanes we have come to enjoy flying.

Over time, there were many flight instructors and mechanics and writers who have shaped what I have become today. They have had a profound impact on the way I find myself working in the field of aviation and passing on information to others by way of writing about it.

This is why it is important for young flight instructors to associate themselves with other CFIs. NAFI provides a conduit for people engaged in aviation education to exchange ideas though different media to do the job better. Once a person starts learning about aviation, there are other organizations from which they can benefit and meet new people.

For the mechanically inclined and those who like to tinker, the Experimental Aircraft Association is a way to meet pilots, aircraft designers, entrepreneurs, mechanics, and other mentors who are excited about building and flying their own airplanes. Within the EAA, there are other divisions to include warbirds and antique airplanes.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association provides those not so trustful of their personal mechanical skills a different source of camaraderie. AOPA has worked hard over the past years to make sure the everyday pilot has a voice in the affairs of government as well as providing avenues of research for all pilots, both recreational and professional.

I encourage all pilots to look into membership with these three aviation organizations. The are very well worth supporting, especially concerning the flying privileges of the non-professional and non-military aviators.

For more information on each, please visit,, and


©2014 J. Clark

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