sideview of airplanePassion. It sparks in radiant arcs when you discover it—or it discovers you. When you possess it, you couldn’t hide its warm glow if you tried. Passion spills beyond the edges of your physical form to illuminate your true path in life. But to recognize that path you must wake up and pry your eyes away from the crowded route society suggests you travel, that road thick with business suit zombies—the working dead—who move wherever they’re told. To find your true path, you must study your surroundings, must discover where passion’s glow throws a vibrant light onto hidden doorways and seldom used short cuts. Trust and follow that beam. It will lead you to the person you were meant to be.

But passion is not only luminescent; it’s magnetic as well. Passion draws kindred souls to you, even as it tugs you toward them. And when the individual light of passions mix and swirl in their infinite colors, magic emerges.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched passion energized gatherings and witnessed how they connect us in the most unlikely places. For you pilots that read this blog, please read to the end to learn how your passions can help others with theirs.

Passion for Planes

If you have a passion for flying like me, you were either at the AirVenture aviation show in Wisconsin the last week in July, or wishing you were. For seven days, enthusiasts from all over the globe spilled through the gates of Wittman Regional Airport in the tiny town of Oshkosh, all drawn by the love of aviation.

On the grounds of Wittman, the world’s busiest airport for those seven days, people smiled, laughed, and socialized while surrounded by aviation. Typically, when thousands of people gather—in this case 500,000—you can’t help but witness rude acts by someone. But in the time I spent during the week, I can’t think of a single disturbing event that occurred in my presence. In fact, in the four years I’ve been, I can’t recall any rudeness at all.

My friends and I always camp at Oshkosh in a prime spot under ancient oak trees near the vintage airplane area courtesy of Steve Betzler, aviation enthusiast and all around great guy. Every morning we’d wake to Piper Cubs, Fairchilds, Staggerwings and Stearmans. Steve—who has a passion for Tiger Moths after stumbling onto a Tiger project in a hangar once—flies up the week before the event and sets up a small city of tents for his long list of aviation friends who travel from as far away as New Zealand. Every year the camp seems to get bigger, most residents somehow connected through Steve, the unofficial mayor of our tent city. Before the camp grew into what it is today, it started with Steve meeting other Moth enthusiasts for dinner during the Oshkosh show. Today, the camp is something of a landmark, a place to drop by, catch up with friends, old and new, and talk aviation, something known as “hangar flying” although in this case, the hangar top has been peeled back, exposing the pinprick of stars pushing through the oak leaves. Steve said it best when he summed it up with this, “One would never expect that the find of a lonely Tiger Moth carcass in the corner of an old hangar would lead to the tangled—but rewarding—web of places, people, and experiences that are, at the end of the day, more rewarding and lasting than the plane itself. Aviation is a worldwide fellowship after all…”

And in that worldwide fellowship at Oshkosh this year, I finally had the chance to meet some fellow aviation bloggers in person. Lynda Meeks, a citation jet pilot needed some help at her “Girls with Wings” booth at the show so I volunteered for a bit. Lynda is not only passionate about flying, but also about inspiring young girls to fly by providing role models for these young women to look up to.

I was the “tattoo guy” in the booth, my responsibility to attract attendees our way, then “brand” them with a Girls with Wings tattoo. I’m pleased to say that only a few people graciously declined. While in the booth, I met Dave Gamble, blog author of the Papa Golf Chronicles. Dave was one of the first bloggers to list my blog on his when I first started. I met Dave because his daughter, nicknamed Egg, volunteered most of the week in the booth. Somehow, as I was busy talking to exhibit attendees, Egg peppered me with tattoos on my forearms and knee. I began to get a bit concerned I may not escape without one on my forehead. I think Egg tried a couple of times, but I ducked. The guys at the camp gave me some good natured ribbing over the tattoos I sported during our next hangar flying session.

If you’re a pilot and haven’t ever been to AirVenture, you know not what you miss. In a single day you may have fellow aviation enthusiasts like Sir Richard Branson or Harrison Ford stroll past you. But for a real treat, fly yourself to Wittman next year and stop by Steve’s camp under the massive oaks next to the vintage area to introduce yourself. There are no strangers in aviation.

Passion for Paintings

After my trip, I was reminded that it really is a small world—I’ll wait while you say, “but I wouldn’t want to paint it,” in your best Steven Wright deadpan. Finished? Good. When I arrived at The Sanctuary the next week, to return to the business of writing, the universe, as it’s wont to do, showed off again. A week long figurative painting class taught by the talented Dee Beard Dean unfolded across from me as I worked on my novel. I always welcome company at The Sanctuary as I’m often by myself most of the day. The energy and passion of these painters weaving their own personal masterpieces lifted me as well.

As the class set up on the day I returned, Judy Meyler, organizer of the class and a talented painter in her own right, introduced me to Dee, mentioning that I used the space as well to write my novel. When Dee asked the premise, I relayed a bit including the flying elements. Her eyes sparkled a bit before she said, “My daughter flies with her husband. They both just returned from the aviation show in Oshkosh.” Then she called her daughter, Terry, who was at the workshop as well, over to meet me. Terry and I buzzed about aviation and the excitement of the show, then she told me that they’d flown their plane in a record breaking RV formation. I pulled up a photo, one I’d shot at the show and said, “This formation?” Sure enough, she pointed to their plane in the formation. “That’s us, right there.”

In the studio with the painters, I sensed the same energy I’d felt at Oshkosh, an electric pulse in the air. As I wrote, the painters seemed to glow themselves as they turned blank, white canvases into colorful realities, creating beauty from brushstrokes. Occasionally, I walked around, admiring each painting, all similar in scene, but each with subtle, but separate nuances that marked their take on the world they saw before them, ones that differed from their studio neighbor. When I’d return to my chair to write once more, I’d often lift my eyes from the scenes in my novel to peek at the scene before me. If I squinted my eyes just right, I could almost see light swirl off each of them, as if their passions, ignited from within, could have illuminated the room even if we’d flicked the overhead lights off.

Passion for Pets

Another reminder of passions, and how they connect, leapt at me when I opened the avalanche of email once I returned last week. A good writer friend of mine, one who appears on the verge of big things, had sent an email about the Pilots N Paws organization. This friend has a deep love for animals and is an active volunteer for animal shelters and rescue operations, sharing this passion with several other friends of mine. There is a common thread I noticed among these friends as well: excitement and fulfillment in what they are doing. My writer friend knows my flying passion well, knows it’s the subject of my novel. She passed along information that happens to bring together the animal lover groups and the aviation groups. So, if you are a pilot, here’s an opportunity to help another tight community full of good people, ones who do things because they love to, not because someone makes them.

As pilots, we know it’s thrilling to spend time in the sky. We’re always looking for excuses to do it. But it’s also fun to have a destination. For the period between September 12th and September 20th, pilots can donate ferry rides to save animals and get them to locales where volunteers can ensure they are safe. Please consider helping out if you can. Click here for more details.

My life is richer, and more energized, after spending time around passionate people the last few weeks. What is your passion? Have you found it yet? No shame if the answer is no, as long as you actively seek it. But don’t be surprised if it’s hiding in plain sight. Often we’re too distracted to notice it because we are chasing what others think we should.

What in your world draws you toward it? What looks more vibrant, more colorful than its surroundings? What glows for you? Somewhere, in that swirling light, your passion awaits.

Subscribe Now to Live Your Best Life

Every Journey Begins with a Single Step

I'll never share your email and you can opt-out at any time. Powered by ConvertKit