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Treat Williams: Diverse in creativity and in the art of flying
By Kristy Hemp
 

Treat collaborated on the project with illustrator and Oshkosh native Robert Neubecker. (Right)

You most likely know Treat Williams as the lead in the musicals Grease or Hair and the long list of movies in which he's appeared.

But Treat has another passion that he can't hide: flying.

"I had aviation dreams as a kid. I was a pilot and I dreamt that I would run down a hill and take off," Treat said.

"I also remember riding my tricycle down the sidewalk and trying to hit lift-off speed."

"My dad built a mock aircraft panel; it looked like a suitcase. It had a door bell and three lights-red, blue, and green. I played with it for years.

"I'm still flying the suitcase!"

Treat soloed at age 17 in a Piper Super Cub. "On my first solo, I couldn't hear the engine," Treat accounted.

"I realized it was because I was screaming so loud!"

Treat's journey to his license is similar to many other aspiring pilots. "I couldn't afford to continue to fly after my solo. So, in college, I would sing at parties.

"Once I had $28, I would go out to the airport and fly."

"I breathe flying. My whole life is about flying," said Treat. "I get more out of flying IFR than starring in a movie."

Putting passion into words and pictures
That love shows in his new children's book AIR SHOW!.

Treat collaborated on the project with illustrator and Oshkosh native Robert Neubecker. The book follows two aspiring young aviators and their pilot dad and co-pilot friend to an air show.

"We got the idea for the book from AirVenture," explained Treat. "I wrote it because I needed an outlet other than flying airplanes - just to say this is what I love."

Treat also has a clear message in his book. "I've been given this gift and I'm saying to my readers, 'you can go and do this.'

"It's a skill you work very hard for and I take my training seriously. It's an honor to be a pilot, but there's a huge responsibility that goes with it."

But he's the first to say he could not have produced the book alone. "Robert loves airplanes as much as I do. I couldn't express my love of flying without him."

The book is loosely based on EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. "We wanted our message to depict an experience at any air show, but it definitely has an AirVenture feel," explained Treat.

Diversity in art and flight
Just as Treat's creative drive is diverse, so is his aviation drive.

Treat has more than 8,000 hours and holds a private, commercial, SEL flight instructor, instrument, multi, commercial helicopter license, and type ratings in the Citation I, II, and V.

"I have yet to get my ATP," Treat said. "Every couple years, I think it's a good idea to get another rating. I feel it challenges me and keeps me fresh."

Treat flew in a RotorWay helicopter during his stay at AirVenture. "I haven't kept current with my helicopter rating, but after my flight, I plan on getting current again."

He has a vision of where he wants to end up in his flying career. "I hope my flying comes full circle and that I'm flying in a Cub again."

This visit is Treat's second AirVenture, and won't be his last.

"There's just an honest love of aviation-an absolute love of flying that I haven't experienced anywhere else. I could say the cockpit of a C-5 was my favorite memory, but it's really the family atmosphere I'm experiencing.

"That's why the book has been so much fun."

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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