My piece of Let’s Go Flying is about exploring the envelope of aviation. And this is a little reminder that that envelope isn’t strictly limited to stall speeds and G tolerance. Sometimes it’s about demonstrating that other instrument rating.
And, by instrument, I mean musical instrument.
I just returned from the convention of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) in las Vegas. Hundreds of men and women who spend the summer flying upside down for the crowds gather in December each year to talk about safety, marketing, organization, and where they’ll fly next summer.
One of the highlights of the ICAS convention this year was the Greg Poe –sponsored Monday night appearance by country music giant Aaron Tippin. Aaron, in addition to having made hits and broken hearts for 20 years as a musician, grew up in an aviation family and is a qualified pilot. He flies a Stearman, among other aircraft. You can see video of Aaron flying the Stearman on the big screen. I could go on and on about the camaraderie of ICAS and how everyone checks his or her ego at the door, but one of the best examples of that was the fact that Aaron spent much of the rest of the convention hanging around with the rest of the attendees like just another one of the guys.
I get to do a fair amount of picking and grinning as well. I’m a member of the DC-3 Irregulars All-Star Bluegrass Band, which is an assemblage of whomever gathers under the wing of the Herpa DC-3 to play or sing. If I’m flying somewhere in a GA aircraft, I usually bring along my mandolin, which is small and easily stowable, but makes enough noise to cut through and be heard along with the rest of the band. Otherwise, it’s usually guitar.
The Flying Musicians Association held its first Fly-In Musicfest on November 7 at the Fort Worth Spinks Airport (KFWS) and it was a big success. Lots of players and singers who are also pilots and/or aviation enthusiasts.
And there’s even a MyTransponder group dedication to aviation musicians, where you can read raging debates about which is the best model of travel guitar and what artist’s music is most evocative of flight.
I find that there’s a lot of overlap between pilots and musicians. Ask a pilot if he or she plays and you’re more likely to get a “yes” from him or her than you are from a given member of the population in general.
Why does this magic nexus exist? Is it the motor skills? Is it an outlook on life that embraces inspiration in all of its forms? Who knows.
But the next time you head out to Oshkosh or Sun ‘N Fun – or even just your local airport – take along your favorite strummer or plunker or whatever. Music and flight mix well and you should mix them every chance you get.