July 1st was a tough day for a lot of people. We lost a good friend, Walt Meziere. I've since seen a lot of people write about their experiences with Walt and it's impressive. Walt was a father, had just been married 10 days before, a friend, and the reason a lot of us met him... he was an aviator.
Walt would write elaborate stories on Facebook about his adventures. He's famous for his skunk chronicles, where he was trying to kill a skunk on his property. He never got that skunk, but a friend of his did the day after Walt left us. Then, the baby skunk came out of the woods and Walt's new wife Chellie just had to adopt it! Walt is up there somewhere laughing like crazy!
I had been following his latest story where he was bringing his new ultralight home. He had been flying it back when his engine failed. He put it down in a field and damaged the landing gear in the process. He simply got a truck and brought it home that way.
Then on the 1st, I got a message from a friend that said, "I'm speechless about Walt" and had emoticons with tears. I thought that was weird... Walt was fine, the plane wasn't, but he got it home. But that message bothered me and I opened Facebook to his page. My heart sank when I read his daughter's post. "Thank you to everybody that has so far called and contacted me. My father, Walt Meziere, passed away suddenly in a plane crash today. I loved my dad more than anything. He was larger than life. Words cannot express the huge amount of sorrow and grief we are all experiencing right now." I cried. It didn't seem possible. He was larger than life.
Being around aviation as long as I have, it's not the first time I've heard such horrible news. It's often the pilots we know are better than the rest. Walt didn't just fly the Comanche that crashed, he flew a Stinson, ultralights, powered parachutes, etc. He just loved flying, it didn't matter in what.
I can't begin to imagine the hole he left in his family's lives. It hurt us as friends. Most of us probably saw him only a few times a year... imagine those that saw him daily. If you knew him, he was your friend. He was a legend in aviation. In a lot of ways this will make it harder on his family. So many people felt such a great connection to Walt and will want to share their stories.
I met Walt through flying powered parachutes. He was at a fly-in that I attended. You couldn't help but notice him, he was a character. Singing and dancing around like he was the drunkest guy at the party... but he didn't drink! The first time I flew into his airport, he took me up in the Comanche. We did some low passes with both of us laughing and having a great time. I was once on the way to his place when I got a call that my Uncle had passed away. I changed directions and headed home. I forgot to tell Walt and he was about to send planes out looking for me... I got a bit of an ass chewing that day! Sorry Walt!
As I stated before, Walt had quite a few different types of planes and he liked to share his experiences. He would get a new plane and tell me to go fly it. "Have you ever landed a Stinson? It's amazing how easy it is. Go fly it!"
The world won't be the same for a lot of people. We lost a big aviation ambassador. We may have lost him, but we won't forget him.
One last story. Walt had been married a couple of times before he ended up marrying Chellie. I wanted to fly into his wedding, but his runway was closed due to heavy rain. He was giving me crap about not making it, but I didn't have time to drive. I decided to take a shot at him and told him, "That's okay Walt, I'll make your next wedding." He laughed so loud! He was cracking me up. I got him good and he knew it. Then he stopped laughing and said, "Not this time Bro. She's the one." And she was and he was hers. I can't imagine the pain of finding "the one" and losing him 10 days later.
Goodbye Walt. Show an angel how to do a lomcovak for me!
Jack "Sure Missing this Guy" Fleetwood