What is the best name for an event that brings together vintage airplanes, republicans, democrats, kids, old folks, good food, women, and men to congregate just outside Washington DC? The annual Cessna 190/195 Convention, of course! This year's convention was no snore. It was well attended, well organized and, as always, a whole bunch of fun! I arrived by airline on Wednesday evening. Ashley and Pat flew the 195 up from Texas. They arrived on Thursday morning. Thursday started with lunch and the maintenance clinic. After some socializing and eating, we all gathered around Gene Rambo's 190 in restoration and Bill Milton, Jeff Pearson, and Kurtis Arnold, along with a few others captivated the audience with their extensive knowledge of these vintage machines and how best to keep them flying. That afternoon we all headed back to the hotel to wash up for dinner in downtown Culpeper, VA. I'm not sure which part of these conventions I look forward to more, the airplanes, people or food. Either way, the food at these conventions is always superb. Thursday night's dinner was above par, and the company put it over the top. Friday began with breakfast at the hotel and a trip to the airport. Once at the airfield, the pilot briefing began for our trip out to Gettysburg, about a 45 minute flight north. DC's airspace poses some challenges for a single airplane. With 30 195's flying at the same time, safety and organization is paramount. Most everyone grouped up in formation units and flew up to Pennsylvania in loose formation. Lest we forget, these events are not called "fly-ins" for no reason - lets fly! After landing in Gettysburg we loaded up the bus for lunch in town. After lunch we got back in to the busses and had a great tour around the battlefield. Even for those that didn't particularly like US History, this tour was well liked. It was fascinating, informative and concise… albite a bit warm. Once the tour was over it was time to fly back to Culpeper. Friday evening wrapped up with a fantastic hangar party at the CAF facility which was flanked and protected by a TBM, T6, and 33 195's. We were in good hands. A paper airplane contest, some door prizes, great food, and a band with one of our own members singing filled the night air… oh, and a hangar party wouldn't be complete without some formation flybys! Saturday came too fast and it was time to wash away the headaches from the night before. Saturday was a day to remember, a field trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center, a subset of the Smithsonian Air and Space museum at Dulles Airport. Want to see a bunch of grown folks act like little kids in bounce house? Put passionate vintage aviators in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. I was one of those kids, the Hazy Center is unbelievable. We really needed 2 or 3 days to fully appreciate this museum. I don't think Ashley or I blinked the entire time we were there. Wide eyed and impressionable. Unforgettable. That afternoon a few of us stayed past curfew to see the "Sully" movie at the Imax theater in the museum. What better place to see an aviation movie then in the world's biggest and best aviation museum? Not only was the venue neat, the movie was great as well. It's hard to impress aviators with a Hollywood aviation movie, but this one is an outlier. I highly recommend it. After a long day at the museum it was time for the traditional Saturday night banquet. Like a broken record, food became a gathering catalyst once again. The banquet is the night the 195 foundation is recognized. I'm partial to the Foundations good deeds as I was a recipient of the Mort Brown memorial scholarship a few years ago. I wrote a little note about it for the banquet;
"The Cessna 195 Mort Brown Memorial Scholarship was the catalyst that propelled me into a full-fledged aviation career. I received $4,000 toward my CFI training. Until that point, I was using savings, using friends and family, and borrowing money to pay for my ratings. It was an arduous and lengthy process. As we all know, a lot has to be put in before any money can be made in aviation. I had put everything I had in, and was just short of getting my CFI and finally making money at doing what I love. The scholarship provided me the money to bridge the gap, and do it in a timely manor. Since getting my CFI, I've gone on to instruct, start my own business instructing in tailwheel & turbine powered airplanes, I've gotten my ATP and type rating in a Citation, and I've begun working for an aviation manufacturer which makes a modern day bush airplane. I started as a pilot, moved into a demo pilot role, and recently I was trained as a test pilot and have moved into the flight test program as a manufacturing and experimental test pilot. Ironically enough, the very same thing Mort Brown did for Cessna. I've flown on the 6 inhabited continents, and been to all 50 states. Without the Mort Brown Memorial Scholarship, I don't know if any of this would have been possible."Next it was time for dinner and the nights speaker. The speaker, Joe Edwards, was a Navy fighter pilot and a US Astronaut. He enchanted the audience with his war stories and space stories. It's hard to impress a room full of old, bold pilots but Joe's stories quieted the audience except for a few "oohh's and ahh's." It was a pleasure listening to Joe speak. The night finished off with a few more drinks out by the pool and some war stories of our own. After going to bed much too late, Sunday morning was upon us all quicker than expected. Sunday is always a somber day, goodbyes are never fun. The morning, and the convention wrapped up with the morning breakfast and business meeting. After some good discussion, and input from Hudson Arnold, we headed back to the airport to begin our individual journeys home. Another family reunion come and gone. This year was one for the books. Next year will be even better. 360 days to go….