April – May
We were able to attend several motorcycle events during this time. We attended a Bike Blessing, Seasons of Refreshing (the Christian Motorcyclists Association’s season kickoff event), Run for the Son (fundraising ride for missions), and a Biker Sunday in Mahomet, IL. We were able to reconnect with friends and pray with many for God’s protection for many starting out the riding season.
June began the airshow and aerobatic competition season. Our first event, June 8th, was the Kokomo Wings and Wheels Show. We were busy this year as Mrs. Hollywood sang the National Anthem and helped with the operations in the tent, selling biplane rides for Cliff and organizing picture and poster sales. I prayed in the Pilot Briefing, offered the invocation, announced for most of the show, and performed Two Wheels vs. Two Wings with Cliff. This event was therapeutic for me as my Grandmother died in a house fire the day before. I know I will see my Grandma again! She was a wonderful, God-fearing lady. She spent many hours reading me Bible stories as a kid and many more hours praying for me as I grew into the man I am today. As the announcer, I was able to dedicate the performance to my Grandma. As she lived in the same county, her story was on the front page of the paper. Many people came up to talk with me after the show. Even in her passing, she was touching lives with the love of Jesus.
June 14 – 15 found us back at the Ohio Aerobatic Open where I flew to a 2nd place finish. It was good to see friends that I had not seen since last competition season. During the weekend, I was able to share with one of the contest officials and pray with her for healing. I would have many more opportunities to share with her throughout the contest season.
July 13 we flew into Sheridan, IN for their Wings and Wheels Show. The runway there is too short to perform Two Wheels vs. Two Wings so we do not perform with Cliff there. I was invited into the Pilot Briefing to pray over the pilots and the event. Mrs. Hollywood performed the National Anthem and I announced the airshow. We invited any WWII vets to come forward and we were so pleased to have William Clark come forward! We love to honor the WWII vets whenever possible. Mr. Clark was 93 years young! Mr. Clark served in the USAF and was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska where it was -60 in the winter! He stated that even being an Indiana native where winters get cold, he nearly froze. Mr. Clark was a co-pilot on a C-47. He opened his wallet and showed me a picture of him in uniform taken during the war. Everyone gave Mr. Clark a resounding ovation. What a joy to meet and say thanks to this fine Veteran!
July 27 – August 4 was our return to EAA Airventure Oshkosh!!! Oshkosh is SOOOO much fun for us! We get so many opportunities to meet, share and pray with people. I was invited to address the congregation of a church in Appleton that is pastored by a wonderful friend we met at Oshkosh last year. I was again invited to the flight line to pray with one of the top airshow pilots in North America. We were even filmed praying together which may be used in an upcoming documentary. I had the opportunity to share with another of the airshow pilots about God’s amazing love for him. It was a wonderful time of sharing. And the amazing thing is that he came over to speak to me! This is not to say anything of me but rather how God directed this man to me to share God’s love with him. I haven’t the space to share all of the stories of meeting, praying and sharing with all those we made contact with.
We also picked up two new sponsors while at Oshkosh! A big thank you to Adventure Pilot maker of the iFly GPS. The iFly GPS is the absolute best portable GPS that I have seen or used. Walter Boyd of Adventure Pilot is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and when he learned of our ministry, he chose to come alongside of us and we are so pleased to have Adventure Pilot as a sponsor of Open Throttle Ministries.
A big thank you is also in order to Quiet Technologies. We met Dr. Phil McCandless right after meeting Walter Boyd. Phil’s company produces the Halo Aviation Headset. After hearing about our involvement in aerobatics, Phil decided to be part of our team through sponsorship. I am the proud owner of a bright yellow Halo Headset and am very pleased with its performance.
There are links to our new sponsors in the right hand column. Please check out their websites and if you are looking for a GPS (or GPS app) or a new aviation headset, Walter and Phil are definitely the guys to do business with!
August 9 – 11 found us at the Hoosier Hoedown, the International Aerobatic Club Competition held in Kokomo, IN and hosted by the Indiana Chapter of the IAC: The Hoosier Hammerheads. I came away with a 3rd place finish. More importantly, Open Throttle Ministries held a Sunday morning service in one of the hangars prior to the start of competition Sunday. The service was well received by those in attendance.
August 16 – 17 We attended the Indiana State Rally for the Christian Motorcyclists Association. This year the event was held at a new facility which I found to be fantastic… We were in the landing pattern for Indianapolis International Airport. I just could NOT understand those who found the jet “noise” as they called it difficult to sleep through. Mrs. Hollywood and I slept quite soundly… Ah the sweet sound of jets on glidepath to land… The event was well attended and gave us a chance to reconnect with some of our brothers and sisters in CMA. And the facility really was superb (even those who didn’t like the “noise” really liked the facilities)!
August 23 – 25 we made a return to Oshkosh (I just love it there… but only in summer!) for the Oshkosh Air Maneuvers Challenge. As we were getting the last few things loaded to go, I logged onto the EAA site to double check some info… There on the homepage was a picture of the founder of the EAA taken many years ago, with years below. Our beloved leader, Paul Poberezny, had passed. I never had the chance to meet the man though I had seen in a couple of times around the grounds during AirVenture. Just three weeks prior, I had seen him and waved at him from a distance. He smiled and gave me his well-known thumbs up. I was saddened for the organization, I was saddened for his family. At the same time, I reflected on the life of a man who pursued his passion and forever changed the aviation community around the world! And the hosts for the Air Maneuvers were Michael and Audra Hoy. Audra is the granddaughter of Paul Poberezny. We drove through the night to get to Oshkosh. We got a little sleep about an hour outside of Oshkosh and then finished the drive early Friday morning. As soon as we could get pulled into the area where the competition was centered, I walked in, found Audra and offered our condolences. Audra thanked me and then asked who I was. When I said, “Hollywood,” she lit up and said, “I should have known! I have heard your name several times in the last few days.” Apparently, some of our friends in Oshkosh had been telling Mike and Audra about us. And thus began a cherished friendship between the Hoys and the Hollywoods. What followed was a great weekend! Michael and Audra asked if I would offer an invocation. Of course! Then Audra said, “We were hoping to have someone sing the National Anthem but it doesn’t look like that is gonna happen.” Mrs. Hollywood and I just looked at each other and grinned… As Audra was explaining, I just kept pointing to Mrs. Hollywood. Finally, she realized what I was doing. Audra said, “Could you sing for us.” Mrs. HW said, “That’s what we do! He prays and preaches and I sing!” We had a wonderful time around the flagpole outside of the IAC headquarters. As I prayed, I remembered the life of Paul Poberezny. We had many people come thank us for the prayer and the singing of the National Anthem. That event opened up the opportunity for many new relationships within the IAC!
August 31 – September 1… and the rain came… Labor Day Weekend is always fun and BUSY! We started off the day towing the OTM rig to Marion for their annual fly-in/fundraiser. The reason we towed it there was due to our ultimate destination that day. We always get the chance to connect with some great folks at Marion. We have gotten to know the airport personnel pretty well over the years. We get to connect with a friend of mine from my days of going to car shows every weekend. And this year we were able to visit with my aunt and uncle. The Marion fly-in is just one of those events people expect to see you at. We left Marion and headed for Red Stewart Field in Waynesville, OH. This is the home field of Brett Hunter. Brett is a great competition and airshow pilot. Brett finished 3rd in the L. Paul Soucy Series in the Unlimited Category, 3rd in the 4 minute Freestyle at the US Nationals, 4th Overall in the US in the Unlimited Category, and 5th in the 4 minute Freestyle at the WORLD Aerobatic Championships! Did I mention Brett is a great pilot?!? Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, Red Stewart Field holds a great airshow for the community. They have fun things for kids. They have a great meal Sat. evening. They do an afternoon AND night show. They also have a large area for camping. The next morning they serve a great pancake breakfast. We had always wanted to stay overnight. This year we took the OTM rig and set up for the night. As we left Marion, we soon found ourselves traveling through rain. It would stop and start and then stop and start. We got to Red Stewart Field where it was not yet raining and I hustled to get the camper all set up before the show started. To make a long story short, we got to see two acts and the show was called for low clouds and rain. We spent the night in the camper watching college football. It was actually a fun night for Mrs. Hollywood and I. The next morning we enjoyed the pancake breakfast and got to talk to some pilots and got to meet a Christian couple who have started a small business to help promote General Aviation. We then headed back to Kokomo for a practice day. Ten miles from the airport, the sky was blue. However, Kokomo airport was under low clouds and rain. Practice was cancelled and we headed home.
September 20 – 22 Glenndale Days is one of our favorite events! This is an airport openhouse fundraiser. The money raised goes to SMA Support. SMA Support is a non-profit that helps families who have a child suffering with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. You can research this dreaded disease and make a donation to SMA Support on-line. This year we were again very involved in the event. I did the announcing, offered the invocation, prayed over meals, and preached the Sunday morning service, while Mrs. Hollywood sang the National Anthem and led worship for the service. One man came to me after the service and thanked me for the message. He said he felt like I was preaching to him personally. I challenged those attending the service to look at where they were in their relationship to Christ. I compared the journey of Christianity to the journey of becoming a pilot.
September 23 – 28 We left Glenndale Days and headed for my home state of Texas! The weather was starting to become very fall like so the trip to Texas was great. In fact, it was very summer like! We headed to Texas to participate in the US National Aerobatic Championships. What an amazing experience! The OTM rig was parked right along the ramp. The new logos on the front and rear are great! Thanks must go to Mark’s Auto Body for sponsoring us! They installed our logos at no cost! A dear friend of mine donated the large vinyl logos to us as well! It was so great as we traveled all the way to Texas and back, people saw the cross and new we were literally on a mission! The whole week of the US Nationals, it was clear that we weren’t there just so I could compete but also so we could share the love of Jesus with others. I didn’t score as well as I would have liked but the competition was very tight! During the week, we talked with and prayed with several people. I even got to “preach” the message I gave at Glenndale to a young man while we sat in the shade of his plane waiting our turn in the aerobatic box.
October 4 - 6 The rain continues to chase! We headed to Madison, IN for the Madison Airshow. This is the home field for Cliff Robinson, my brother in Christ and my partner in the airshow routine we perform. We got to Madison late Friday and got camp set up. We awoke to threatening skies Sat. morning. Due to the weather, we were unable to perform the race; however, we were able to perform the “handshake.” If you have not seen this, check out the videos in the right hand column. Every time we perform this, we are afforded the chance to talk to folks about Jesus! We even got to share Jesus with a couple of jet pilots who were passing through! After the show concluded (and it was a shortened show) the sky opened up and it poured all night long! It was awfully soggy getting everything loaded back up and heading home.
October 12 – 19 MORE Rain! We headed back to the Christian Motorcyclists Association headquarters for the Changing of the Colors Rally. This is really a time of refreshing for us as we attend church services twice a day. And we NORMALLY go riding between services. Not this year! It rained and rained and rained some more. We did finally get one day that was beautiful! However, things were just drying out. A friend came over to the rig to talk about finally realizing his dream of flight. After talking for quite a while, I suggested we head to the local airport for a short ride. Snowman’s eyes lit up as he said, “Let’s go, man!” We headed to Mena Intermountain Airport where Nathan Cline of Priority Aviation rented us a Cessna 172. Snowman and Frosty (Mrs. Snow) along with Mrs. Hollywood and I enjoyed a fantastic flight overlooking the CMA grounds and the surrounding mountainous terrain. It was a perfect afternoon for the flight. The air was so smooth! That ride really lit a fire in Snowman! He sent me a message the other day to let me know he had passed his ground school exam!
October 26 My friend Billy told me about a show he was putting on at Bedford, IN. After a long season and two week long trips in the previous few weeks, we were broke! We prayed and asked God to provide the finances to go to Bedford. We headed to the airport where I pulled the Skylane out and calculated exactly how much fuel I needed to get to Bedford and back with legal reserves. I put the exact amount of fuel in the tanks and we flew to Mount Comfort where we met up with Billy and Russell. It was great to see them both! I met Russell at the US Nationals. He is a great guy and fellow Texan. He had come up for the day to participate in the show. We flew formation from Mount Comfort to Bedford. It is sooo much fun to fly formation with fellow aerobats! We attended the pilot briefing and then I offered the invocation and Mrs. Hollywood sang the National Anthem. The show was a lot of fun! We knew it was the last of the year so that added a special element to the event. As we were all loading up to depart, the airport manager came out and thanked Mrs. Hollywood and I for our participation. He said, “I didn’t even know you guys were coming!” The next thing he said blew me away. He told me to pull my plane up to the fuel pump and said he was going to put a number of gallons in as a way of thanking us. The number of gallons? The exact number I had calculated and added to my tanks that morning!
When the final results were tabulated, I ended 2013 as the number one ranked primary aerobatic pilot in the nation, finished number one in the primary category in the L. Paul Soucy Series, and the Mid America Region Primary Champion. Thanks to everyone in the International Aerobatic Club for a great year!
It was a wonderful year in ministry. We experienced a terrible family tragedy in the middle of the year but Jesus saw us through that and blessed us beyond our wildest imaginations! We are looking forward to 2014 and what God has in store for us this year!