by Robbie Culver

What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2005 • Robbie Culver

Robbie CulverAfter missing the 2004 Clinton fly-in (my wife was due with our first child), I set my sights on the 2005 fly-in as soon as Royson and Lori officially set the dates. Throughout the spring, Royson and I had exchanged emails and PM’s on the forum about doing an event video to show at the Saturday evening banquet, and I began to really look forward to creating something we all could enjoy seeing.

The weekend before the fly-in, I cheated and flew the Cherokee over to Clinton from our home base of Waukegan, IL, to visit with Royson and get a feel for the place. It struck me during that visit that there was no better place for a fly-in – a small, rural, quiet airport tucked way out in the midst of the Iowa corn with no one to complain about our antics. Royson seemed genuinely at ease, and we played with his newfound video toys – wireless cameras!

The following week dragged by as my initial excitement grew with every day. I had packed the video toys, set up the video in my mind’s eye, and couldn’t wait to get going. The weather, which for literally months had been severe clear (and in fact, a severe drought) looked promising for a Wednesday departure, so Brenda and the Bean and I all planned for that. Brenda, being the trooper that she is, agreed to drive over since she had to be back for work that weekend, and we could haul more stuff in the car than in the 150.

What we hadn’t planned on was the weather. The first storm system in literally months roared across northern Illinois that day, and in the end, Brenda beat me to Clinton, arriving ten minutes before I did, as I sat at the airport and waited for the rain to clear.

I had been shooting in-flight video as I arrived and taxied up, and the excitement really set in as Dale Larsen guided me into my parking slot very close to Ed Pataky 's beautiful 150. Lori was there to greet me with a hug the instant I climbed out – but soon abandoned me as she discovered that Brenda and Joshua Bean had also arrived. Can’t blame her for that one!

 Lori and the Bean

Within 10 minutes of arriving, I began the process of shooting the event video. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy combining the two loves of aviation and photography, but I hope it shows in the results.

Felipe Marrou snuck this shot of me shooting video

I spent the next four days in a frenzy of video and still photography, with some quality family time thrown in, and some fast-footed editing and creativity. (In other words, I screwed up and sent some of my stuff home with Brenda and had to improvise on the fly!)

The fly-in became a blur of names and faces and airplanes and laughter. From the first evening’s early bird dinner, to the Luau, to the flying contests, I met more wonderful people and shared more great fun than I have done on a vacation in years. Every time I turned around it seemed as if there was another moment to capture, and I soon realized that any video I produced could only touch on the special feeling we all shared during the event. Squeezing 4 hours plus of video into a short snippet is always tough...

All too soon, Friday morning rolled around and it was time for Brenda and the Bean to leave for home. It was hard seeing them go, and I felt guilty for staying as they did. My friends and new found family soon made me feel assured that staying was worth that guilty feeling that nagged me the rest of the weekend.

Friday evening came, and it was time to start putting the video together. I went back to the Super 8 and sat down on the carpet to see what I had. Between the super-fisheye stuff I shot on the flight line the first day, and the entertainment during the contests, plus the in-flight footage I shot from my airplane and several willing volunteers, I was really wound up about what I had to work with.

 The Camera Geek readies the in-flight cameras

Over the course of the next 5 hours I managed to cobble together something short, sweet, and to the point. I deliberately left room to add footage I would shoot Saturday morning that would add to the “timeliness” of the video, and ended up planning for what Royson and I had agreed would be the limit of a bunch of tired pilots on a Saturday evening. That was 9 minutes.

During the weeks leading up to the fly-in, I had hatched a plot with the help of many fellow club members, and believe it or not, I was more excited about that on Saturday evening than I was about showing the video. Ed Pataky sprung the trap by “introducing” me to talk about the video. Phooey! Royson and Lori...come back here!

I had the privilege of being able to present them with a plaque we had made for them in honor of their incredible efforts in making the Cessna 150/152 club what it is, and even managed to come up with some extra cash from generous members to include with the requirement that they spend it on them, and not on the club!

The Trap is Sprung

 The Award Given to Royson and Lori

The look on their faces as I began to read the plaque was priceless. But even more priceless was being to able to do it there, in front of all of my new friends and extended family, at the banquet during the fly-in they worked so, so hard to make happen. A standing ovation told me that all in attendance agreed with my idea...

Showing the video became anti-climactic, but still rewarding. It was nice to know that my fellow pilots enjoyed it, and their thanks left me blushing until I left for the evening. I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed making that video, and spending the fly-in doing the things I love to do – play with cameras, and hang out at the airport!

When I scurried out early Sunday morning to beat the heat and wind, it was with a heavy heart and a big smile. I knew the fly-in had truly evolved into something new and different, from what I heard from those who made it in years past, and I enjoyed being a part of that. But I also knew that I would miss seeing all my new friends and running amok with my camera geek toys at the Clinton airport.

Guess we’ll have to do it again! See you in 2006!!

Robbie Culver

The Cessna 150-152 Club and Cessna 150-152 Fly-In Foundation are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. Chicago, Illinois

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