Saturday, May 13, 2017

Steve McCollum: Flyover of former pilot/flight instructor’s house fitting tribute

Steve McCollum

Pilot Randy Thompson flies his Velocity kit airplane over the late Steve McCollum’s house last Sunday.

The flyover of Steve McCollum’s house by a number of aircraft last Sunday was a fitting good-bye for a longtime local pilot and instructor who taught many local residents to fly, said his longtime flying partner.

Fred Fisher, McCollum’s partner in a flight instruction school for a number of years and the organizer of the memorial, said seven planes and a helicopter participated in the flyover.

Pilots and passengers taking part include pilots Fisher and Chuck Koch in a Mooney airplane with passenger Fletcher Collins, a Cessna 172 airplane piloted by Jim Black and Tom Jones, a Velocity kit airplane piloted by Randy Thompson, a Beechcraft Bonanza airplane piloted by Mike Keysor and Fred Pond, a Cherokee Warrior piloted by Ralph and Maria Shindeldecker, a Warrior piloted by Jerry Mazur and Jim Rhoades, and a Champion Citabria aerobatics-rated airplane piloted by Tom Wilkin, with passenger Susan Fisher, which performed an aerobatic routine over McCollum’s house.

Later, a helicopter piloted by Andy Gordon, with passenger Steve Bailey, flew over McCollum’s house on its own.

Fisher said he was very pleased with the number of pilots who participated in the flyover on May 7.

“That shows how much Steve was thought of by the pilots in the area,” he added. “They jumped at the chance to honor him with this memorial.”

Fisher said he and McCollum had a long history of flying together, and as flight instructors.

The local pilot and First Ward Van Wert City Council member, who earned his pilot’s license in 1985, said McCollum, who earned his pilot’s license 11 years before that, began their long association after talking about flying while watching their daughters play softball years ago.

“I helped him with his commercial and flight instructor certificates,” Fisher said. “Shortly after he became an instructor, we started a flight school in 1993 and we instructed together until he was no longer able to continue.”

Fisher said McCollum was an excellent flying instructor and taught a number of area pilots to fly over the years. He also purchased an Aeronca Champ airplane that allowed him to do aerobatics and became a very good aerobatics instructor as well.

“Several local pilots, me being one of them, had the privilege of taking lessons from Steve in order to fly aerobatics,” Fisher recalled. “More than once, we all heard his favorite saying (“What were you thinking on that maneuver?”)

Fisher said that phrase always came after a pilot had messed up and then had what he called “the extra thrills” of regaining control of the airplane. Of course, McCollum’s follow-up was “Let’s do it right this time.”

“To say the least, we had a great time learning together and lived through it to tell about the experiences,” Fisher said.

He also noted that McCollum loved flying and loved to share that love with others.

“Steve was a good pilot and friend to all who knew him,” Fisher said. “He would stop in a second to tell flying stories to anyone who asked a question about flying.”

Fisher said he and other local pilots were saddened by McCollum’s death on April 25 after a period of ill health.

“He will be sadly missed by a lot of us, for a lot of different reasons, but most of all for me as a fellow flying buddy, as we have had the pleasure of flying all over this country together,” he noted.

Original article can be found here:

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