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Meeting Chuck Aaron

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I know this guy, Russell Madden who lives in Ft. Worth, Texas. He's been reading and commenting on my blog for a couple of years, and we're "Facebook friends." I know he owns a Hiller 12D, and also sometimes flies a Bell 47 painted like a M*A*S*H helicopter. He's been inviting me to his place so see his ship for a while now, but I've never been able to make it over.


Russell came to Pensacola for our big Blue Angels "homecoming" (end of season) airshow we had this past weekend. I usually blow off these shows because of all the traffic and hassle of getting in and out of the Navy base. It's awful. But at least Russell and I finally got a chance to meet and go out to dinner at a popular local restaurant after the show on Saturday night.


As we were chatting, I discover that he was actually here as part of a team that does an aerobatic show in a CAP 232 sponsored by Breitling. In fact, after the show is over Russell was going to fly the CAP back to Texas where it is based. So I'm thinking this guy is more than just an enthusiast who owns an old Hiller.


We had just ordered food when a couple walks up to our table to speak to Russell on the way out. I look up and see that it's Chuck Aaron. Chuck friggin' Aaron. They start chatting like old friends. Now, I'm definitely not the kind of guy who gets star-struck, but I was curiously, well okay, a little star-struck. Russell introduced me. I turned into a fanboy. I stood up and was like, "Derrrr, I'm such an admirer. I've got 2,500 hours in Bolkows but I sure couldn't fly one like you do!" He seemed amused by this. Chuck and Russell go back to talking. "Stop by the place in Ft. Worth," Russell tells Chuck when they finally said good-bye. "I will," Chuck replies, sounding like he means it. Again, I'm like, "What the...? How the...?"


So my Facebook friend turns out to be something a lot more than I expected! I make a mental note to make my way to Ft. Worth for a visit.


As we're leaving after our meal, Russell has to hit the head. I tell him I'll wait outside. The place is packed as usual. As he wades through the crowd toward the men's room I see him greet some other couple in "airshow shirts" and baseball caps. (The teams all have and wear shirts with their logos on them so they can identify each other in restaurants and such.) I didn't see who they were but I figured they were also part of the show.


As we're talking in the parking lot Russell says, "That guy I said hi to inside? He flies the Otto helicopter." I go, "Roger?" I've met Roger Buis a couple of times. Great guy. He lives here in the Pensacola area, rides Harleys and in addition to the 300 that he uses for the Otto act he also owns a gorgeous 47D-1 painted up in a M*A*S*H scheme. In fact, Roger was the one who let me try my hand at long-lining one day when he was training another pilot in the art (long story).


Man, this is one crazy business. You just never know who you're going to meet.

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I think meeting Chuck is pretty much a "fanboy" moment for anyone who is truly a "fan" of helicopters.


The real kicker, is that he's a tremendously well spoken and genuinely nice guy. If there is a better representative in industry, I have not yet met him/her.


I met Chuck last year, as part of my research process on the purchase of our Super Five. We flew to Chuck's Hangar, where I hoped to politely pick his brain for perhaps 30min to an hour at best.


What I got was an almost 2 hour nonstop "intel-piledriver". Chuck was so forthcoming (and obviously SO tuned into the 105), it felt like Christmas, gifts were everywhere.


When you think about it, its really odd: Here is certainly one of the Top Pilots, yet he had ZERO ego. I"ve met DOZENS (if not more) Pilots with less than 2000 hours, who had 10x the ego.


We need more guys like Chuck.

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