November 2012 Issue
Fans of Flight
Aviation-loving volunteers and staff bring the history and joy of flying to museum visitors.
Don Willis has been flying a long time, and the 68-year-old from Troy can tell you a lot about what he’s learned since he began lessons as a youngster in a light Piper, “in a grass airstrip over in Greenville.”
“I’m an engineer by training, and there’s a lot of engineering challenge to flight,” he says. “You have to understand how the airplane is built, what its limitations are, and you have to be able to do complex tasks like navigation — what I’ll call the risk and adventure of it. And I like the travel part, too — I like that in a few hours you can be 2,000, 3,000 miles away for an event that you want to go to. All those things appeal to me.”
He pauses and thinks. “But you know, there’s a beauty to flying, too. It can be dreary on the ground, but you get up there, over the clouds, and when you get up to the top ... it’s gorgeous, let me tell you. It’s like they should have music playing.”
Perhaps it’s because of people like Willis that Ohio is blessed with so many institutions that celebrate the heritage of flight. Sure, it could also be thanks to that famous pair of derby-wearing Dayton brothers — but whatever the reason, the state has a good number of important flight museums. And each has someone, like Don Willis, who can explain exactly why they love the place. To read more, click here to subscribe. >>