in business aviation are so lucky. Not only do they get to manufacture, market,
sell and fly amazing aircraft; they get to work with some of the best people on
The Wichita Aero Club gala is always a special
evening for the Air Capital of the World. We come together to celebrate a member
of our community whoís truly left a mark on the aviation industry. I was beaming
with pride last Saturday evening as my dad, world-renowned aviation photographer
received the honor.
Since 1972, he has been producing the worldís
most creative, memorable and enduring air-to-air images.
His long list of
accolades includes the San Diego Air & Space Museum International Hall of Fame,
Flying Magazineís 51 Heroes of Aviation, Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, and
Canonís Explorers of Light. He has been part of more than 1,000 magazine covers
and ad campaigns.
Naturally, itís wonderful to see your dad
singled out for recognition. As he gave the narrative of his career using his
images, he started off by saying:
"When I go to a concert, my favorite part is
when the artist tells stories so you leave knowing them and their music better.
So thatís what Iím going to do tonight.Ē
The Wichita Aero Club presents its trophy
annually to an individual, group, or organization with ties to the local
aviation community whose exemplary achievements and contributions in the field
of aviation or aerospace deserve special recognition. Past honorees include the
late Velma Wallace, Jeff Turner and Spirit AeroSystems, John OíLeary and Airbus
Americas Engineering, Russ Meyer, Al Higdon and Docís Friends Restoration Team.
Photo: Visual Media Group.
Each image that came up on the screen was a
reminder of the amazing people Dad has worked with over the years. And
specifically, how filled with heroes and mentors this industry is. Perhaps this
comes from aviationís unique 40,000-foot view. Or the element of risk and
responsibility assumed from those pushing new boundaries. Or the deals made on a
handshake and a personís word.
The eighth annual Wichita Aero Club gala was
held on January 28. Pictured here, left to right: Phil Michel, former Cessna
Aircraft vice president of marketing; Al Higdon, former Learjet PR executive,
agency principal and 2014 Wichita Aero Club trophy winner; Paul Bowen, aviation
photographer and this yearís Wichita Aero Club trophy winner; Jeff Pier,
attorney and Wichita Aero Club chairman; Ashley Bowen Cook, Greteman Group vice
president and Wichita Aero Club board of directors; and Dave Franson, Wichita
Aero Club president. Photo: Visual Media Group.
Whatever the reason, I canít imagine an
industry more defined by its close, trusted relationships. And Dadís friendships
are a testament to that.
One of the
many stories he told was about a photo he took of Gene Cernan, last man on the moon; Neil Armstrong, first man on the
moon; and Bob Hoover, one of the most accomplished pilots who ever lived.
Several years ago, Dad found them all chatting in a bar after an intimate
gathering they had attended celebrating Hooverís 90th birthday.
While the sight
of these three American heroes gathered together is awe-inspiring, the truth
behind the photo is that Armstrong and Cernan were standing on either side of
their hero, Hoover.
Dad was fortunate enough to capture that shot and to consider these men
Gene Cernan, last man on the moon;
Armstrong, first man on the moon; and Bob Hoover, one of the most accomplished
pilots who ever lived. Photo: Paul Bowen.
Dad reminded us that heroes arenít only those
whoíve been to the moon and back. Itís the pilots who enable him to do his job.
The men and women who power this industry from the factory floor to the
boardroom. Dad gave a nod to Russ Meyer, Cessna Aircraft Company chairman
emeritus and aviation crusader, as his ďultimate hero.Ē From the comments I
heard throughout the night, I know many look up to Dad. I also know what Dad
would say about that. Because he said it to the full ballroom at the gala.
"Iím just a kid with a camera pursuing his
passion and taking photographs of other people pursuing their passions,Ē he
said. ďI have the best job in aviation."
Paul Bowen has spent more time in the gunner
position of a Mitchel B-25 than anyone who fought in World War II.
Photo courtesy of Paul Bowen.
Business Aviation News | 2nd February 2017 | Issue #402
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