Monday, August 9, 2010

Oshkosh 2010... Bran & Cappy's Great Adventure

Bran's texts beeped me awake last Tuesday morning at about 6:30 am, shorthand phrases to let me know Cappy was watching the weather, and that they were excited to head out to OshKosh in Cappy's two-seater VariEZE. His last text, "I lv u mom, c u ltr" was read and re-read a handful of times between 7:00 am and noon.

A couple of my friends were praying with me for a safe flight, and it made me grateful that a one-line email conjures such prayer and support. I knew, knew, knew in my heart that Dad and Bran would be safe. Knew that this trip to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh would give Branson nearly a week of one-on-one time with his Cappy and at the same time throw open a window to the aviation world in a way most people never get to experience. Quite honestly, I was a little jealous not to be there with them. With 5.2 miles of more than 2,500 aircraft, the whole sha-bang is quite impressive. All these pilots and aviation enthusiasts AND their aircraft gathered would be quite an experience, one that my dad has been a part of for twenty-five years now.

Dad had been mentioning the possibility of Bran joining him at Oshkosh for months. Neither Corbin or I were sure that at ten Bran was old enough. That is, old enough to stay focused for four or five days on airplanes, airplanes, airplanes. But Cappy assured us that he thought Bran would enjoy it, and that he was flexible to fly home a day or two early if need be.
No need be.
They stayed all week and had a ball.

Cappy relayed stories of Bran making best friends with a stoic pair of 70-year-old farmer twin brothers; following a group of teenagers through race car simulators and finishing with the highest score; ringing the bells atop climbing walls; and competing with Cappy for the most clever one-liners.
Getting to meet Burt Rutan
Dad bought Bran a flight book where he not only logged his hours flying, but also secured a plethora of impressive signatures, including a hand-scrawled message from the luminous Burt Rutan.

Over the weekend, the rest of us enjoyed a few days at the lake while Cappy and Bran wrapped up their time at Oshkosh and started their five hour flight home. Late Friday afternoon, Corbin, Daboo and I loaded up a jet ski to put in the water. Basden and Essie swam while Hud mowed a few strips of grass on the John Deere. In an instant the rumble of Dad's VariEZE vibrated through the trees, a happy interruption to the still, blazing hot afternoon. I watched their silhouettes as Bran and Cappy soared over the lake and buzzed our dock. Cappy circled the white bird down and then climbed straight up, waved hello with a wing-over, and then headed east toward home with all of us waving (and Mommy jumping up and down) from the dock. Cappy gave us quite a show, a grand finale to their flight adventure.
Much to my delight, Bran returned not only safe and sound, but with souvenirs for his brother and sisters. Esther's "My grandpa's plane is faster than your grandpa's plane" t-shirt is my favorite (though Basden warned Essie that it might hurt some people's feelings) but Basden loves her airplane earrings, and Hud his official Oshkosh pin and cowboy hat.

We all laughed at Cappy & Bran's stories over cokes and pizza later that night, I couldn't decide who I felt more proud of - my mature son with his uncanny ability to engage with adults all week, or my Dad who fashioned a plane with his OWN HANDS in our Wren house garage years ago and transformed a dream into a reality. This is the stuff of sweet memories and once in a lifetime opportunities. Thank you, Dad, for taking the time to introduce Bran to OshKosh. For changing up your routine and seeing OshKosh "through the eyes of a ten-year-old." We are ALL grateful for your big dreams!