I have never seen a more clear cut case of a man dying doing what he loved. Yes, the loss of the plane is tragic, but to see Howard go down with the plane is not. That man adored that plane. I would rather see him die in that Bearcat than in some bed in an old folks home.
I have met the man on several ocassions. From when I was a kid riding around on the oil cart with my dad during the old CAF airshows in Harlingen, TX to the pits at Reno. He was a man that was passionate about flying and warbirds.
If it was not for men like Pardue, I would not have been able to see many warbirds flyng. Men of passion and free enterprise. There are several Bearcats in museums all overthe world. There are also countless stuffed birds coldy resting in museums. I prefere to watch them fly. I feel pitty for those that do not understand what a 77 year old man was doing flying a high performance plane.
Yes, preserve one for history. The navy has done that. But I for one consider thae oportunity to watch a man like Pardue take one up and put her through her paces at an airshow, priceless. And that is probably where he was going, to an airshow. If not, he was taking her up to practice for the season.
I say thank you to Howard Pardue. Thank you for all the years of airshows and aerobatic routines you shared with me. Thank you for sharing the roar of the engine and spectical of grace and beauty that was your Bearcat. Thank you for the many low, fast, left turns at Reno. Thank you for leaving me with the hunger for flight. Thank you for the inspiration for the countless models I have built over the years.
Thank you for being a man of courage, passion, and generosity.
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