Daddy – An Airport Story in Three Parts

“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.”  – 
Langston Hughes

This is the last of three installments of a short story about vision, an airport and flying. 

I soloed January 10, 1992 and received my single engine land private pilot  license in June.

Rooks County Airport DedicationVision and Dreams

On July 4, 1992, I flew the Aircoupe to the national Ercoupe convention  in Newton, KS, just north of Wichita.  My family attended as well, and I flew Daddy as my first passenger, in the Aircoupe as a licensed pilot that day.

Daddy ‘s piloting days may have been over but his vision for an all-weather airport lingered.

During the years I worked in Wichita, Daddy and I had several conversations about the FAA airport trust fund  available to communities to develop local airports as a part of the national transportation system.

Moving Away

In 1995, My FAA career took me to Brussels Belgium during which time the coupe stowed safely away, looked after by friends and family.

Mom and Dad moved to Wichita where they cared for our home during our stay overseas and to help with their transition to retirement.

I flew each time I was back for a visit.   In 1999 I returned to the states.   I was assigned to the air traffic safety office in Fort Worth Texas.  Daddy’s health was failing.

I found a living situation at an airport near Fort Worth where I was able to acquire a hanger with an apartment. In this space I could keep the coupe, my car and have a home away from home for this last season of my career.

I looked forward to having Daddy visit our hangar home, but that was not to be.  In March of 2000, Daddy died form cancer.  He had only seen pictures of the Coupe in her newest home.

As far as I know, He was not aware of the new plans underway for the airport he had envisioned.  Yet the seeds of the vision and dream were growing.

The Culmination

As I followed the ramp attendant’s signals and parked the little red and white plane as instructed, local photographers and journalists approached the plane.  I unfolded, stood up and stepped out onto her wing to deplane.

I introduced myself and N3052G to her admirers, feeling quite surreal in the moment.  People were excited and gracious as the recognition of Paul Hancock’s plane grew.  Photo ops abounded, statements made and I took my place among the crowd.

Other than the occasional conversation with former classmates and neighbors, I became an observer of time converging.  Of 34 years with the FAA and stewardship of the national airspace system in air traffic and as a:

  • pilot and hangar owner;
  • child whose values in life formed in this county;
  • student in its schools;
  • member of its church family;
  • daughter of Paul Hancock who saw this airport before it was.

Reality Grander Than Daddy Saw

I witnessed the first landing and take-off of a jet aircraft in Rooks County, observed my former classmates who had resurrected and persevered with this vision, now rightfully enjoying the fruits of their labors.

From my years working on airspace/airport improvement projects, awareness of the mammoth effort it had taken to get this airport open dominated my thoughts.  I was grateful to all those who had endured to see this day.

Daddy had seen this day and yet never dreamed it would be this grand.  A dream is a seed, containing the entire DNA of that which is needed for a mature harvest.  Yet it bears little resemblance to what that seed will become.

As I lifted off the new pavement in the center of Rooks County to head home, this came to me;

The passing of time does not make the reality of a dream any less sweet.  Sometimes it takes more than one lifetime to see a dream come to fruition.”

Are there generational dreams you have witnessed?  Please share in the comments.

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