“Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated.”
—Alphonse de Lamartine
The first time I met Mike Wingo was at Site 4, flying Advanced Pattern at the Nats at AMA Headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. Mike usually had the “southern posse” with him, and this often included his son, Austin.
We shared a big laugh the first time we met as he always referred to the Intermediate/Advanced flying site as the “low end.” All of the “good” pilots were on one of the other two sites flying Masters or FAI Aerobatics and we “lowlifes” were sent as far away as possible. Over the years, we decided that this was actually the perfect flightline, because it was grass. We could throw tents up close to the line, and it was a dawn to dusk Pattern tailgating party!
Of course, there was a lot more to Mike than that. He absolutely would not allow anyone who needed anything to go without assistance. He was a great engine guy and kept many in the air during the Y.S. engine days. Time, parts, whatever it took, Mike would make sure everyone was in the air.
One time Archie Stafford needed an airplane to finish the Nats in the Masters class. Mike and Arch came into my office and I had a nice Black Magic hanging from the ceiling. I laughed and said they could have it, but good luck getting good engine runs. Well, Mike took care of the engine and Arch flew that airplane for the first time in a Masters round, saying it only needed a couple clicks of trim.
If you’ve gotten this far, it’s obvious that we lost Mike this summer. Suddenly, and without warning, he was gone. At this year’s Nats Pattern banquet, it was clear how deeply he impacted so many.
In conversations about him, more than once “I just can’t talk about it” was spoken, and yet, it’s very tough for me to think about Mike and not smile. That is what we shared—fun, good laughs, good flying, and a comradery found often in our sport.
Through Mike, I have managed to meet many good people who are great friends. Mike set the bar high on being helpful to any and all.
He flew Pattern years ago and then got out when his kids were growing up. As the kids got older, he came back and got his son, Austin, into the hobby. Mike basically carried a hobby shop with him to every contest. If you needed something Mike had it, and if he didn't, you were probably flying the wrong stuff!
On many occasions, he pulled engines out of airplanes at the Nats and rebuilt them, or just stuck one of his spares in the aircraft to keep someone else flying. He was that kind of person.
My guess is that we all are fortunate to have had a Mike in our lives, and chances are he or she is a flying buddy. Don’t ever underestimate the friend factor that model aviation has, and don’t let the world seem depopulated when you lose someone close. Instead, celebrate the happiness and opportunity that person brought to everyone around.
In recognition of what a great contributor to model aviation Mike was, we honored the Rocket City Radio Controllers (RCRC) club in Huntsville, Alabama, Mike’s home club, with a plaque at this year’s Pattern awards banquet. Mike had a genuine passion for helping others become successful. To that end, the RCRC club is going to provide learning opportunities and flight instruction for area youth.
The club is going to start a fund for providing this and needs help. If you want to honor Mike, send a donation to the AMA, 5161 E. Memorial Dr. Muncie IN 47302, payable to the “RCRC Huntsville” club and we will forward the checks we receive to the club.
We hope that this program lasts for a long time. When club officers change, things can be forgotten. This way, we can make sure it is truly ongoing.
I know I speak for Austin and the rest of the Wingo family when I thank you in advance for your consideration. I encourage all of you to look around your club and give thanks to those who spend most of their flying time helping others. They rock!
I’ve been fortunate to attend many great modeling events this summer. Although it’s tough to point out one, I would be remiss to not tell you about the incredible two-day airshow provided by the Greater Cincinnati Radio Control Club (GCRCC) called The Flying Circus.
The show begins at 11:30 a.m. and provides the public nonstop model aviation entertainment and information until 4 p.m. The emcee, pyrotechnics, flights, and absolutely everything is totally scripted and organized beyond belief. The general public is charged $5 per vehicle to park and that’s it.
The crowds are so large that a jumbotron is placed at each end of the flightline to make sure everyone can see the action! Remote cameras feed the crowd in between video downlinked from various aircraft in the show. When they recreated Pearl Harbor and brought the Zeros in for their bombing runs, 19 of them were in the air.
Great airshow team displays were given by four Giant Scale Red Baron bipes and the jet and heli demos were world class. Warbirds, Pylon Racing, Combat, comedy, and fun-fly events are part of the show.
Did I mention that this is all done by club members? They didn’t have a single “hired gun.” They do it all and GCRCC annually invests approximately $10,000 in local charitable organizations.
Bravo to GCRCC, its members, their families, and supporters. It’s so rewarding to see AMA clubs at the top of their game doing great things in a community. Leadership makes so much of this happen, and this club has it!
I am choosing to not mention individual names. This was a club effort from setup to show to picking up the trash. The event is usually the first weekend of August and I’m told that’s the plan for 2015. If you are anywhere near the Cincinnati area next summer at this time, stop and watch. You’ll be amazed!
Fly and have fun!