Earlier this month I attended AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which I like to refer to as Pilot Camp. This is the largest general aviation show in the world and it is a total blast!
I studied for my pilot’s license somewhat late in life, getting my ticket at the ripe old age of 50. It has been full steam ahead ever since.
There are so many great things about being a pilot. The freedom, of course, is great, but there are also many other perks. So many people from so many other professions are pilots, but to be one you have to have discipline and be a life long learner, so the other pilots are a plethora of diverse backgrounds, professions, and interests.
Everyone is under one roof in our love of flying…and we escape the daily grind. Once those wheels come off the ground, you have to control that bird, and as you see the ground grow farther and farther away, it is funny how your perspective changes. Your worries melt away and your brain kicks right into flying, even if it doesn’t want to. Seems like a pretty simple choice to make, doesn’t it?
Oshkosh is my love of flying on steroids. First of all I “rough it” in the dorm. No A/C, bus rides so no traffic jams, people from all over the world all in a good mood, and cheap meals across the street for $8-$12. What is not to love?
When I get to the field the toughest thing is what to do first. Usually I hit the vendors first to shop for deals on oil and headsets. Then I look at all the planes and jets and drool all over the new toys. The FAA always has great courses going on and the forums have endless courses from industry pros that’s bigger than one can imagine. All this makes a week seem like a very short time.
Usually the day flies by and before you know it you are reminded it is mid-afternoon as the blaring of the planes at the airshow grabs the attention. This year I sprang the $125 entrance fee for the Aviator’s Club tent. This is an air-conditioned tent with all you can eat breakfast, lunch, snacks, ice cream, drinks (non-alcoholic). When the skies opened up twice on Thursday, I knew I had gotten my money’s worth.
As I was sitting there having my late breakfast, I looked over at someone who looked important judging by the eight people surrounding him in rapt attention. I thought he was some guy on that home building cable show until I was told it was George Lucas. I was glad I didn’t go up and tell him how much I enjoyed his cable show. I prefer to leave the famous to their peace and quiet, until something happens that makes me break my rule.
When I returned later that afternoon for my lunch buffet (better known as making a pig of myself), I sat down at an empty table set for eight. A few seconds later, two men sat down with their Tuskegee Airmen shirts on. I thought, “Whoa, this is pretty cool.” I introduce myself and find out that they are from the Detroit chapter. I didn’t want to act starstruck or make them uncomfortable, but after a fun discussion about Detroit and sharing that my family is from there, they agreed to pose for a nice photo. Here is my pic of two of the Airmen with one of their caregivers.
Just goes to show you that pilots are from everywhere and do everything.
What a blast!
Michael Daugherty is President & CEO of LabMD, an Atlanta-based clinical and anatomic medical laboratory with a national client base. LabMD specializes in analysis and diagnosis of blood, urine, and tissue specimens for cancers, micro-organisms and tumor markers. Mike founded LabMD in 1996 after 14 years in surgical device sales with U.S. Surgical Corp. and Mentor Corporation.
Outside of LabMD, enjoys playing tennis, travel, and flying his Cirrus SR22 Turbo single engine aircraft. He is a member of the University of Michigan Alumni Association, the Atlanta Aero Club, and the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Mike holds a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and has resided in Atlanta since 1987, when he moved to Atlanta from Portland, Oregon.
Michael J Daugherty can be found at: