It would be well into my late teens before I actually admitted how much I liked spending my childhood getting dragged to every airshow and historic site east of the Mississippi. My dad was and is in love with the sky, with how airplanes work, with getting people where they need to go. So much so, I’ve secretly often wondered if I was named after the Allison engine.
From the control tower at the airport where my dad worked, he’d show me the diagrams of planes landing and taking off, the weather radar and lightning strike monitor. We’d look for our house with binoculars and never be able to find it, perhaps because its hard to see your house when you’re standing in your home. He took me to more airshows than I can count. I’ve climbed through the cockpits of so many World War II aircraft, I can’t identify one from the other. Our trips to the Air and Space Museum in DC bored me to tears after the 15th time, but I loved watching how excited he got when we discovered an engine in the museum belonged to the same plane he owned the propeller to. He built balsa wood airplanes with that we’d play with in the front yard, and when they fell to pieces he’d get out the glue and teach me to try again.
We traveled all over the country as a family, learning new things by experiencing instead of in books.
Whether or not it was intentional, every museum trip and airplane documentary on the history channel made me fall madly in love with the sky as well. When I told my parents, after an airshow, that I wanted to be a stunt pilot when I grew up, they started researching flight classes for kids. Sometimes, I think it would have been less dangerous than the technology industry I work in now.
He is patient and kind and full of the worst jokes you’ve ever heard. He taught me to do everything with pride and work hard and that your family always comes first. He tried to teach me algebra, but that didn’t work out so well. He taught me how to build a campfire and the words to every Irish drinking song he knew. He went on all our school field trips, got me ready for school and let me wear whatever I wanted, and tried to tackle my wild curly hair each morning. He was even an honorary Girl Scout.
Happy Father’s Day to the man who gave me my wings, taught me to fly, and let me go.