Father’s Day memories

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and all the children remembering their dads.

Dad passed away in May 2001 after what seemed like an eternity of dealing with pulmonary fibrosis. During those last 18 months, I traveled to Arizona to see him as much as I could. There have been many times when I wished I could talk with him just one more time. He always had a way of counseling that left one feeling better about life’s paths.

Miller boys at EAA-1993
The Miller boys attend 1993 EAA Fly-in, Oshkosh, Wisc. (l-r) Barry, Bob, Brian and Brent Miller.

When he was a kid, he would make model airplanes out of balsa wood and paper. One of Dad’s ambitions was to learn how to fly an airplane, to obtain a private pilot’s license.  In his 40s, he accomplished that feat, but he never really did much flying afterwards. It was the goal that was reached—maybe one item on his bucket list—and that was good enough. In retirement, he became a member of the Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Squadron. He loved to take us over to the hangar and show us the museum and the airplanes–a B-17, a B-24 that he was helping to restore, a T-6. When we all visited for Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary, he took us boys over to the airport and bought us rides in that WWII, T-6 trainer.

Dad was not the only member of the family to earn a pilot’s license. All three of us boys studied, practiced and earned pilot’s license. I was the first at age 20, receiving my private pilot’s license just three days before departing for a tour of duty in Vietnam. Barry, the youngest, was next and Brian earned his pilot’s license last.

With four pilots in the family, it should not be a surprise that we might want to hang out at an airport or attend a flying show. We’ve all been to the big airshow at Oshkosh, WI—the Experimental Aircraft Association annual fly-in, but we had never been there before—all four of us together. In 1993, we made that happen. We spent the day looking at airplanes and dreaming of loftier adventures.

So, on this Father’s Day, I’m remembering Dad and how he was like a kid whenever he was around airplanes. I haven’t been flying for years, but I still look skyward when a plane flies over. I guess it’s the kid in me—just like Dad.

See you on the highway.


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