It's been a while since I've written. In the days since March 12, when I posted the late-night blog about Kyle and Amanda, much of the aviation community (and many new fans outside it) has followed Kyle as he updated us daily on Amanda's condition. Kyle's injuries turned out to be non-life threatening, although he did undergo skin grafts and is still undergoing physical therapy.
It was a beautiful, well-attended service. Looking around the church, you could find a true cross-section of the aviation community. Rob Reider, airshow announcer and the host of a lot of Sporty's Pilot Shop's instructional videos, read the obituary and sang a worship song (he's a really good guitar player and singer). Fellow CAF colonels were there in force, wearing their unit shirts. Other airshow fans were there in their airplane-themed Hawaiian shirts. Our buddy Chad, the aforementioned controller, even wore his pink "Oshkosh Tower" shirt (controllers who volunteer to work the world's biggest fly-in wear this shirt as a badge of honor).
At the cemetary, there was a mass flyby (capped by Matt Younkin's twin Beech. He flies a gorgeous airshow routine with it and flew Amanda home in it last week from Texas under the call sign "Amanda One"). There weren't many dry eyes. It was if the airplanes were telling Amanda "goodbye." If you're a pilot, you get that. Airplanes have a soul. Trust me.
The other occupants of my 172 were asleep on the flight home, so I had lots of time to think. The whole day was like a somber version of Oshkosh. A family reunion of people who didn't know each other but had a common interest, a common passion, and were on this day mourning for a common reason.
Then I realized why I'm so drawn to the Younkin and Franklin families. They represent the two most important parts of my life: my wife Alisa and my love for aviation. For me and for these families (particularly Kyle and Amanda), those two facets of life are and always will be inseperable. I see a lot of people I know in that relationship---Alisa and I, my sister Amy and her husband Wesley, and many others. We understand things that only people who really live their lives understand, and that connects us in a way that's hard to describe.
So now I get it. I can explain that weird pull, in context. I did not know her beyond our Facebook friendship, but she was no stranger. If you're the kind of person to whom that makes sense, I have a calling for you.