Happy Holidays – Capt Force Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

If the story as told to me by the EAA is true, in the early 1920s, engineer William B. Stout sent out a number of letters to wealthy potential investors asking $1,000 from each. In his letter, he said, in relevant part, “For your one thousand dollars you will get one definite promise: You will never get your money back.”

By all accounts I can find, Stout kept his promise.

Stout’s project and passion? On a beautiful August day this year, I took the controls of one of only 199 units that this particular dream produced. But what a unit! It was a 1929 Ford TriMotor, a silver, corrugated, and cantankerous, but awe-inspiring, harbinger of the golden age of aviation. Because of Stout’s dream and the loving labors of countless people from then to now, I added 0.3 hours dual received in the Tin Goose to my logbook.

Several months ago, I found out that friends, independent filmmakers, and fellow pilots Will Hawkins and Rico Sharqawi had decided to make a documentary film about aviation. It’s called A Pilot’s Story. Will noticed that, no matter the circumstances of the individual pilot or aviation enthusiast, some magical core part of each of their stories was always the same. As a labor of love, Will and Rico have set out to capture the essence of what it is to become, and be, a pilot. Although Will and Rico’s appeal for donations to help pay for the project was a lot less dramatic than Stout’s, the core idea was the same. This is a labor of love and we might get to watch a really spectacular movie about people and aircraft (and so much more) if the project gets finished.

So, as is my practice, in lieu of fruit baskets, nut trays, and other indicia of the season, I have elected to contribute to a worthy cause. Earlier this week, I made a contribution in your collective honor to the making of A Pilot’s Story.

Though I am certainly no captain of industry, I share at least one thing with Stout’s investors. I don’t expect to get my money back. I don’t want it back. Neither does anyone else I know who has donated. We have traded our funds, time, and talents to the universe, confident in the knowledge that the universe (and, in non-trivial part, Will and Rico) will deliver a film that will be an artifact of our hopes and aspirations that will tell a story that defies conventional storytelling. I hope that you get to see it when it comes out in late 2009 or early 2010.

If you’re interested, you can see the newly-mixed trailer for the film at www.apilotsstory.com.

I hope that you’ll regard this gesture as appropriate to a season that is, after all, about a very similar kind of wonderment and joy. Thanks for the opportunity to work, play, fly, and/or laugh with you this year. It’s been a privilege and I hope that you’ll receive this note with the appreciation that I continue to have for each of you and for our professional and personal relationships.

Happy holidays, everyone!

About Steve Tupper

Stephen Force is the superhero alter ego of mild-mannered tech and aviation lawyer, commercial pilot (glider, with private privileges in ASEL, ASES, AMEL, IA, and DC-3 (SIC) type-rated), and Civil Air Patrol lieutenant colonel Steve Tupper. Steve writes, records, and brings you the inside story about everything that really matters in aviation. He's flown with the USAF Thunderbirds, he's and airshow performer and air boss, and he's one of only five pilots ever to earn a FAST card in the glider category. Follow Steve's ongoing quest to do all that is cool in aviation at www.airspeedonline.com or on Twitter as @StephenForce.


  1. Ace Gopher says:

    Love and follow your blog…but wanted to tell you your link to the “A Pilot’s Story” website doesn’t work because you have a “file:” type and not “http:”…

  2. Stephen Force (Steve Tupper) says:

    Thanks! Got it squared away.

  3. Hi Steve,
    I just bumped into your site while doing research for my own. I’ll definitely need to download a few podcasts. This is really great work and I’m happy to see you donating to a worthy cause!

    I think all pilots have a bond that is difficult to express. How do you explain the exhilaration of controlled flight to someone who has never experienced it!

    Happy Holidays!

    Dan Yager

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