Sunday we loaded up our 1955 Piper Pacer, took off from our airpark home and spent five hours cruising along at 7,500 feet above the ground to Middletown, Ohio. What’s in Middletown, Ohio? It’s the location of this year’s Short Wing Piper Club Convention and it’s where we’re spending our family vacation. This summer marks our eighth summer vacation spent with our Short Wing Family, a group of aviators who love vintage Piper airplanes, at the Short Wing Piper Club Convention.
2010 - Rose and Ryan strapped in and ready to go to Middletown, Ohio.
Before you think we have some big fancy airplane, let me tell you that our Piper Pacer is not big or fancy. Inside we have less room than you would have in a VW Bug, the avionics (radios and navigation gear) are basic, the cruise speed relatively slow (about 123 mph) and the purchase price far less than most new Sport Utility Vehicles. We bought the plane eight years ago because we wanted an inexpensive, economic family airplane. New planes were out of reach for our budget so we bought a “classic” and as with classic cars, there’s a club for the people who own and love these planes and it’s this club that hosts a convention each year.
At these conventions we gather to share information about our planes, visit with friends new and old (there are about 150 people here this year and about 50 planes) and see some local attractions. But for all of the local attractions, so far this week we visited the world’s largest indoor train exhibit at a place called EnterTrainment Junction and the National Museum of the US Air Force, it’s swimming in the hotel pool that always tops the list for my kids, Rose and Ryan.
Traveling with the kids has gotten oh so much easier since our first convention when Ryan was just one year old and still in diapers. In those days we had to pack diapers, snacks, toys, all sorts of stuff to keep the kids entertained on the flight. Now that Ryan is eight and Rose nearly 11, they pack their own bags (Ryan was so excited he packed his bag four days before departure), get in the plane, strap in and settle in for the flight. Our flight here this year was just about perfect with tailwinds pushing us along in the air and no wind on the ground when it was time to land. As I flew the first leg of our trip and looked down at the fields and cities below I remembered that flying is something special that I do, that my family gets to do together. And I feel really fortunate to be a pilot, to have a husband who flies, too, to have an airplane and, mostly, kids who are willing to go wherever we fly them.
Rose and Ryan back in 2006 on our way to Kingston, Ontario.
Note that Ryan is holding his bathing suit so he can hit the hotel's pool as soon as possible.
It’s so much fun to look back at the pictures from the first convention to now and see how the kids have grown, to reminisce about the people we met each year, the things we saw, the fun we had. Next year the convention takes place in Spearfish, South Dakota. You can bet that we’ll be loading up our little Pacer again next year and find our way there.
Back in 2008 on our way to the Northern Exposure convention at Telemark Resort in Cable, Wisconsin.
Where have SWPC Conventions taken us? All over the country and to places we wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Here’s a list of the convention sites since we started attending in 2003.
2009 - stopping for fuel on our way to Knoxville, Tennessee
2003 Springfield, Missouri
2004 Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
2005 Vancouver, Washington
2006 Kingston, Ontario, Canada
2007 Hutchinson, Kansas
2008 Cable, Wisconsin
2009 Knoxville, Tennessee
2010 Middletown, Ohio
A rainbow from the window of our Pacer, somewhere over Wisconsin.