It was a first for me! It was a first for Open Throttle Ministries! Every pilot dreams about their first trip to Oshkosh, WI for the annual EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) convention called AirVenture. It is a journey that every pilot must make at least once. Our schedule had never permitted us to attend. This year the schedule opened up! I was allowed to take vacation from work during AirVenture. Mrs. Hollywood and I talked about the trip and prayed about the trip. We were going to just enjoy Oshkosh. However; we told God that we would be available for His use in any way He saw fit.
WOW!!! What an unbelievable trip! We met some wonderful new friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, air show pilots, and a slew of aviation enthusiasts! We were invited to speak at the prayer breakfast at Fergus Chapel on the grounds of AirVenture on Tuesday! Mrs. Hollywood sang and I spoke about OTM and the fact that we are all called to share the Love of Jesus. Fergus Chapel was our starting point for each day. It is a beautiful chapel and we met some wonderful people there. It was wonderful to start each day worshiping and praying with others!
We were also invited out to the flight line to pray with one of the air show performers and pray a blessing over his plane! What an absolute honor and privilege!
We also found ourselves meeting and praying with folks throughout the convention. It was one of the most amazing weeks I/we have ever experienced! And it all started with a simple prayer, “God, we are just going to enjoy ourselves. We have no contacts there. But, we make ourselves available to You. Use us however You choose.”
Needless to say, we have worked and planned and figured. We are returning to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2013!!!
Upon our return home, I had one week to prepare for the Hoosier Hoedown. The Hooiser Hoedown is the only IAC Competition in Indiana. And with our schedule that meant only one day in the practice box; Friday before the competition on Sat. and Sun. However, there was more to prepare for than just flying. The Hoedown would be the first competition where OTM would hold a Sunday morning service.
Friday was a beautiful day. I helped set up in any way I could. That meant, among other things, walking into the middle of a very dry and very pitiful looking cornfield to help set one of the box markers.
Then it was time to crawl into the Super D and see what I could do. Wow! I really flew pretty well. I filled out an application for a SMOOTH Award. There are two different kinds of awards for each level: SMOOTH and STARS. SMOOTH award is for flying the maneuvers of your level of competition at a certain level of preciseness. STARS award is for flying all of your sequences at a competition at a certain level of preciseness. Giles Henderson was to judge me for my SMOOTH award. Giles is an amazing person and pilot. In fact, he was the 2012 inductee to the IAC Hall of Fame! Giles is the first Hall of Famer I have ever met! But how would I perform in front of him? I passed with “flying colors” (pun intended)! Giles said it was the best he had ever seen me fly! And he knows how I fly as we compete in the same class! Doesn’t seem fair that a Hall of Famer would fly in my class, does it?!?
Saturday, the first day of competition, we got to the airport early and waited, and waited, and waited. It was a total washout! However, we got to spend many hours just talking with the other pilots. It really was a wonderful opportunity to build relationships.
Sunday, I was up early and at the airport setting up a mini chapel in one of the hangars. We had a few pilots come to service. I really felt that God had arranged who would be there. One of the attendees, proclaims to be an atheist! I find that most “atheists” are really just people who are mad at God about some injustice they have seen or experienced. Such is the case with this gentleman. We had a good service and a very good time talking afterward.
Then we finally got some good flying weather! The competition would be one flight for each of us. No room for errors… so much for that competition… I erred. But most importantly was getting to share Jesus with others!
Time for Us
All ministers need to take time for themselves and their spouses. And the best way Mrs. Hollywood and I could figure to do this was to go jump out of an airplane! We have been skydiving before and loved it. So we decided it was time for another trip to the “drop zone.” The last time we went, do to my size (I’m thin but fairly tall) I was the last guy in the plane which meant I was the first guy out. It occurred to me on the climb out that I had never seen anyone jump out of a plane before! Yes, I’ve seen it from the ground but I mean I hadn’t seen anyone jump out of a plane that I was in! On this trip, I would be the last one to jump. That meant watching my wife jump out! First, there was an experienced jumper. I loved the way he just threw himself out the door! Mrs. HW and I are still at the stage where you hang on the wing strut and let go. It was crazy how fast he just disappeared! I realized then that I would be watching Mrs. HW do the same thing. It was then that I wondered how she felt that first time when the only person she had ever seen jump out was ME! Our Jump Master, Carl, was fantastic! As I watched Mrs. HW vanish before my eyes, Carl hung out the side of the plane and watched. He looked back in at me with a great big smile and a thumbs up. “She did great! She’s under a good canopy!” he said. Very reassuring!
Now for those who are wondering, skydiving is extremely safe these days. It is nothing like the early days (much like flying airplanes). We even have small computers on our parachutes that will deploy the parachute if something happens and we don’t get ours opened manually! That being said, we would never jump at the same time. One will always go first and once one of us is safely under canopy then the other will jump.
Next, it was my turn. Yee Haa! I love the entire process of jumping: the ride up, the free fall, and the slow glide down. Now for the landing; how would I do? The last time, we were not very pleased with our ground instructor. He stands on the ground and via radio talks you into the landing zone. He waited too late to tell me to flare (why didn’t I flare sooner? I was following his directions.). I landed on my backside! It was safe. It didn’t hurt. But, I wanted to land on my feet. This ground instructor was great! He talked me right into the landing zone and I knew when he said, “Flare, Flare, Flare.” it was gonna be good. I stuck my landing!!! I shouted, “Yeah!!! I stuck my landing! I stuck my landing!” Everyone laughed! It was a great day of fun for Mrs. HW and I!
Then the Rain Cometh!
It was a VERY dry summer! We were very concerned for our farmer friends and family! Still we were glad for good flying/riding weather on the weekends. We did have a washout day during the Hoosier Hoedown and a wet day in Oshkosh, but other than that weather did not alter our schedule.
We always look forward to Labor Day weekend! There are always at least two events we love to attend. There is a VERY large fly-in, pancake breakfast, benefit, car show, bike show, tractor show in Marion, IN! It is enormous! One year, a very dear friend of ours came along as he loves aviation as much as I do. I keyed up the radio and announced my position and intention to land. As I let go of the radio button, my buddy, pretending to talk on the radio said, “Marion International this is Skylane…” It was hilarious! Marion has a good size airport. It is not; however, anywhere near the size of an international airport. But on the day of the fly-in, it is as busy as an international airport.
We fly because the second event of the day is another wonderful fly-in/air show in Waynesville, OH. There is no way we could drive and make it to both events. We have friends who live at and run the airport in Waynesville. We also have friends who fly this show including our own Cliff Robinson! We cannot do our routine there as it is a grass strip. This is a great family event and is put on for free to the public. They have a wonderful evening meal that is provided on a donation basis.
So this year, as every year, we got up with excitement and drove to the airport and drug the plane out. However, as we did, the sky started to get dark. Then, it just kept getting darker. I checked the weather… It was moving in fast! Flying in rain is no big deal. On the other hand, Low Ceilings are a big deal! We pushed the airplane back in the hangar. We decided to drive to Fort Wayne where they were having a 2 day airshow. We intended to go on Sunday but weather up towards Fort Wayne was better so we thought we’d try. Another friend of ours was performing at Fort Wayne so it would be a good show to see 2 days in a row. We ended up sitting in the truck watching the guys perform in rain!
We returned the next day. We were able to remain relatively dry… until the end of the show. Here came the rain again. In bucket fulls this time! But we did get to see our friend perform and got to talk with him briefly and remind him that we are still praying for him!
CMA Indiana State Rally
Our next event was the Christian Motorcyclists Association Indiana State Rally. Cliff and I performed at this event in 2011 and were invited back. The youth were excited and invited their friends to come see Hollywood race a plane. Cliff and I performed our routine and then took the youth into the FBO to talk to them about Jesus. 6 kids made decisions to follow Jesus! That is what OTM is all about. Telling others about God’s love for them in the hopes they will decide to live for Him!
It is not cheap to perform this routine. It takes a lot of fuel and smoke oil. Many people and some businesses gave in order to have this airshow routine at State Rally. I cannot begin to name them all. However, each and every one who gave had a part in these kids making decisions to follow God! I know God will bless them for their generosity! I will make mention of one business without which we absolutely could not have done this event. Air Marion: Thanks guys! You are awesome!
Some of the best events take place at the smallest venues. Such is the case with Glenndale Days at Glenndale Airport. Glenndale is a small airport community with one grass runway. Each house along the runway has a hangar out back. The people at Glenndale are wonderful people. Each year at Glenndale Days they invite the community to come out and go for airplane or helicopter rides. They even have two T-6 Texans that folks can get a ride in. There is food! And I mean lots of food! There are bounce houses for kids. The great thing about this event is that it is a fund raiser for SMA Support! SMA Support helps families who are dealing with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. You can learn more at: www.smasupport.com
Last year was our first year attending Glenndale Days. We had a great time. Over the last year we have gotten to know Steve and Laura Stants much better. They are great folks! Steve asked us to come and perform the opening ceremonies. But, over the last year, Steve heard me do some airshow announcing. Soooo, he asked me to do some announcing for Glenndale Days. We arrived on Friday and set up our camper. Chuck was very gracious to allow us to set up in his backyard and even ran a power cord out to us! Thanks, Chuck!
Saturday was cold and wet. There was very little movement on Saturday. There was; however, a large tent with lots of food! We spent most of the day in the tent. Then, as evening fell, the clouds gave way to sun for the last hour or so of daylight. We were invited over to one of the houses where they had a huge fire. We sat around and watched kids play while we enjoyed the warmth of the fire.
Sunday was much improved. We had a wonderful breakfast and then we had a church service. Mrs. HW sang while a local preacher was invited to speak. After service, the airplanes took to the skies. At the end of the day, when the event was scheduled to be over, there was still an hour worth of flights to give to folks who had paid and were waiting in line. In all, it was a great weekend and a large amount of money was raised for SMA Support.
We were again invited to attend the Madison Airshow in Madison, IN. Mrs. HW and I performed opening ceremonies with prayer, National Anthem, and a tribute to WWII vets. Then Cliff and I performed our routine. Afterwards, we talked to folks and signed pictures and posters. Then at the end of the day, Cliff took me up in his Stearman. It is hard to believe as much time as we have spent together performing that I had never been up in a plane with Cliff. He had the front control stick out to give rides so I wasn’t able to fly but it sure was fun. The Stearman is such a big bird to do aerobatics in compared to the planes I usually fly. You could park a Decathlon or Pitts on the other side of the Stearman and no one would even know there was a plane there!
As the day was wrapping up and we were getting everything put away, a couple flew into the airport in an Eclipse Jet. We had a very nice time talking with them. We told them about the love God has for us and for them. They left with a full load of fuel and a signed poster of Cliff and I.
Changing of the Colors
We love returning to the CMA Headquarters for the Changing of the Colors Rally! It is a week of wonderful worship and preaching! We were so very blessed to see our dear friend Coyte standing and walking! As you may remember from our trip to National, Coyte was in a tree cutting accident and the fact that he is alive is a miracle. When we saw him in June, he still had an open wound and could not stand or walk!
Mrs. HW and I always compete in the Bike Games. This year the games were reduced to a kind of skills riding course. We competed as single riders and then as couples. I finished 2nd in the singles and Mrs. HW and I finished 1st in the couples. The guy who beat me won by a few tenths of a second! And he and his wife were the 2nd place finishers in the couple’s competition! It was great fun!
Upon my return from Colors I had to prepare for a wedding. I was privileged to perform the wedding ceremony for a childhood friend of Mrs. HW. She and her new husband are very nice folks. Mrs. HW and I enjoyed our counseling sessions with them. They had a very nice ceremony (no, I’m not bragging about my part of it!). We had great fun at their reception! We wish them God’s Blessings on their marriage!
The End of Another Wonderful Year Serving God
With that we wrapped up another year of ministry. We are glad to have some down time and it is nice to spend some more time with our church family. Mrs. HW is singing on the worship team and I am assisting with prayer and Scripture reading and whatever else Pastor comes up with for me to do. It was an incredible year that found us doing things we could have only dreamed of at the beginning of the 2012! We can’t even begin to imagine what God has in store for us in 2013!