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Morning Mission

Jim Roberts

Photo by Jim Roberts

On opening day of AirVenture 2022, Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board, joined Vintage Aircraft Association President Susan Dusenbury in a very special ceremony. They gathered with VAA members near the Theater in the Woods to unveil the statue Morning Mission. The inspirational piece, which depicts a parachute-clad airman gazing skyward, was crafted by Tulsa, Oklahoma, artist Clayton Coss. It’s modeled after the original bronze sculpture by Robert Weinman, which graces the entrance to Tulsa International Airport.

Commissioned some years ago by the late Charlie Harris to honor the pilots of World War II, and painstakingly sculpted by chainsaw from a tree removed from his front yard, the piece now also stands as a tribute to Charlie’s contributions and dedication to the VAA. It was donated from his estate, to be enjoyed by all.

According to the VAA, Charlie was a founding member of EAA’s Antique/Classic Division, now the Vintage Aircraft Association, in the early 1970s and served in various capacities, including national director, treasurer, chairman of the executive committee, chairman of the hall of fame selection committee, and director emeritus from 1988 to the time of his passing in December 2017. He was inducted into the VAA Hall of Fame in 2006.

Charlie learned to fly as a 16-year-old, and his passion and devotion to aviation spanned his entire lifetime. Susan Dusenbury remembers Charlie, a Navy veteran from the last year of World War II, as very patriotic. Every Memorial Day, he would write a heartfelt tribute to the true meaning of the holiday, closing with “Lest we forget.”

A stone bearing that inscription now stands at the entrance to the gazebo sheltering Morning Mission, located in Charlie’s Park between Theater in the Woods and the VAA Red Barn. AirVenture attendees will find shade and tranquility in the grassy glade, along with the opportunity to pause, remember, and say “Thank you” to those who serve.


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