Many ask why I named my Airstream Bob. The short answer is that I named it after my Dad.
My dad was a private pilot. Growing up I flew with him all over the country mostly to local fly-in breakfasts, sometimes longer trips to warmer climes (Texas & Florida) to get away from the cold Chicago winters. He always like to say how someday he wanted to fly across the country wherever the wind would blow him and sleep under the wing.
I have so many fond memories of flying with him. One hot August day, at 8 years old, I ate too many pancakes and sausages at one of those Fly-In breakfasts. Flying home on final approach, the august heat, smell of airplane oil, and my breakfast got the better of me. Being in the Aircoupe, with the windows down, my dad told me to hold my head out the window so I wouldn’t mess up the interior plane. The interior was spared, but I was a mess, he poured a gallon jug of water over me, which felt great in the heat, I was soaked so he let me wear his t-shirt. It was all fun and games from my point of view.
The next plane was a Mooney. I learned to fly in that plane, with it’s variable prop and retractable landing gear. My dad loved that plane. I used to feel so important as his co-pilot, keeping watch for other aircraft. Mapping our progress against our routes. Setting the radios for the next VOR we were tracking to. One of my favorite adventures in that plane, was when we flew over the Bermuda Triangle and our instruments went a little cuckoo. We popped thru the clouds though, and there was Nassau looking pretty as a picture.
After the Mooney came the Cheetah. That was a sweet ride too. I was in college by this time, and he would fly up to a local airport and give my friends rides. I remember flying to watch the fireworks from the air. What a vantage point.
Sadly, my dad was involved in a mid-air collision over a small airport. The weather was closing in, and both planes had the same idea of waiting out the weather at the same airport at the same time. My dad was on his way to retirement a mere 30 miles from his destination. I hold on to the thought that he died doing the thing he loved, and felt no pain. He was a young man and I was only 24. He was still Superman in my mind. I appreciate that I didn’t have to witness him failing. I also take with me the belief that one never knows how much time they have left, so it is important to embrace life.
I named my Airstream Bob, so I can take my Dad with me on my version of flying across the country. My guardian angel watching over me.