|Don Miller of Ray Community Airport, Michigan, and his beautiful RV8. (photo by Jack Hodgson)
By Jack Hodgson
August 3, 2013 - Don Miller is prepping his RV-8 for the trip home from EAA Oshkosh 2013.
He's feeling a little itchy because he's been waiting a couple of days for his plane to be refueled. And now he needs to get home...but still no gas.
He spent five years building this beautiful blue-and-silver Van's RV, finishing up 11 years ago. Completion of the plane triggered his first visit to the Oshkosh fly-in, and he's returned ever since.
His reasons for coming back each year echo those of so many of us.
"I come to just look around. There's always something new. It's a wonderful place, everybody loves airplanes. There are 10,000 airplanes down here, and you won't find one fingerprint.
"People here adore airplanes."
Don belongs to EAA Chapter 13. They have about 148 members, 15-20 of which made it to the fly-in this year.
Back home Don flies the RV to many destinations around the Detroit area. "For instance, we're gonna go from the Detroit area to Battle Creek to the museum."
Don's home airport is Ray Community Airport (57D) in Michigan. I've been to Ray, and it is a terrific example of the great grassroots airports that so many EAAers will return to after the fly-in.
Ray is located in the green farmland to the north of Detroit. It's privately owned and has fuel and a comfortable and charming pilots lounge.
You can get primary training there, aerobatic training, and everything in between. The hangars, large and small, contain go-fast planes, go-slow planes, and even a few go-upside-down planes. Jets and ultralights. Biplanes and gliders.
Ray Community is an example of a terrific grassroots airport, but it's not unique. There are hundreds of great grassroots fields all across this country. All of us who have come to this year's fly-in will leave Oshkosh today and return to ours.
We'll take with us the love of flying and airplanes that we all share. We'll hangar fly and build. We'll aviate, innovate, and continue to learn. And we'll work to spread the word about what we do, and what we have here.
We'll welcome more people to aviation. And we'll make our airports better and better examples of the spirit that we bring here each summer to a field in Wisconsin.
Don's packing up the RV-8 as we finish talking, and just then the fuel truck rolls up. A big grin spreads across his face; it's time to head home.
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