Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#Avgeek Abundance - Flight #9

Today's entry in the blog series is an interview with a lady #avgeek, Julie Vessigault. She self descries as liking airports, airshows, airplanes, flying, hangar flying, says she called the airport gypsy or hangar maiden and that she's "Chasing the Dream." Julie and I have been tweeting one another for many months, and I look forward to meeting her at an upcoming "fly in" tweetup in March! Already acquainted with Julie? Than maybe you'll learn a few new tidbits, or if you don't know her, allow me to introduce her:

When did you first discover your passion for the aviation community?
August 27, 2006, Let me start out with my earliest memories. When I was five years old, my dad's mission in life was to teach me everything he knew about airplanes. When I was six, I was taken from my parents and put in foster homes. The aviation "training" I had faded away.

Twenty-five years later, in the summer of 2006, I met someone who had just been hired by a regional airline and was about to leave for training. I was attracted to this guy, but while he was very aloof and I never heard from him again, something about working for the airlines appealed very much to me. I had lived out of a suitcase for three months and loved it, so a flight attendant's lifestyle seemed to be the ticket. Besides that, suddenly that preliminary aviation training I had 25 years before became fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday.

It's rather poignant to share, but before August 27, 2006 was over, I "knew" my calling in life was to be a flight attendant, and I began studying aviation safety religiously.

When several airlines didn't hire me for flight attendant jobs, I knew I couldn't depend on the airlines to get me airborne. I discovered General Aviation and airshows. The first show I volunteered at was Sun 'n Fun, and in 2007, the theme was "Living the Dream". Three words never before made such an impression on me, and it soon became obvious that aviation saved my life- gave me confidence and wiped out severe depression following my divorce. Two months after Sun 'n Fun, I found myself in the cockpit of my first general aviation plane. I was amazed how within reach the dream of flight was!

After four years of volunteering at Sun 'n Fun, last summer I also volunteered at Oshkosh Airventure plus 4 California airshows.

Do you or have you had an aviation hero? Who?
My first aviation heroes were Robin Fech, an ASA flight attendant who saved many lives in the crash of ASA529, and Captain Al Haynes of the crash of UA232.

As I discovered General Aviation, I adopted Corkey Fornof, Howie Keefe, Bill Brennand, Gus McLeod, Bob and Sharon Stebbins, John and Rose Dorsey, Duncan Miller, and so many others also as my heroes, their individual stories and roles inspire.

More recently, I have established a military aviation hero, known by us on twitter by his callsign, "Shotgun".

In your opinion what makes you or someone an aviation geek (avgeek) or propeller head (prophead)?
  • It could best be summed up in one's travels: When I go some place new, I have to visit the airport. Most recently on a roadtrip to Las Vegas, I stopped at Tehachapi Airport, circled Mojave Airport, skirted Edwards AFB, stayed at a hotel overlooking McCarran Airport, visited and enjoyed a flight out of North Las Vegas Airport, and experienced a tour of the flightline at Nellis AFB. Also every AvGeek has a trip to SXM (St. Maarten) on their "bucket list"
  • A celebration isn't complete without an element of aviation, the past two New Years Eves I rang in the new year at the baggage claim area of SMF and enjoyed "airliner fireworks"
  • You collect model airplanes, airline memorabilia, and aviation-themed t-shirts. You also have a healthy library of aviation books and movies.
  • You spot even the most obscure airplane depicted in a restaurant wall hanging. Identifying the elements of aviation and aerial videography in movies comes natural.
Why do you recommend that your friends and family become avgeeks or propheads?
Aviation saved my life and gave me dreams to live and chase like nothing else could.

What are the biggest challenges facing the aviation industry today, in your opinion?
The biggest challenge is probably the cost of being involved in aviation. But I have overcome that challenge "paying" for my experiences with time and passion.

Do you collect aviation memorabilia? Which airshows are your favorites?


  1. Julie, we defffffinitely need to share a beer or two sometime - and I'm buying! Like I say on my bios, "flying's almost killed me a few times, but it saves me every day!"

    Can't wait to meet you at OSH this year!

  2. That's my Julie! Greetings from Panama *hugs*


  3. Julie, so nice to learn more about your avpassion! I hope we can meet IRL but until then, blogs and tweets will be a good substitute. Simply put, once you have your head in the clouds, you rarely (want to) come down.