Goodbye Henry O…

1618211_10202631775931641_1018402183_oThat’s Henry O in the back row. Second from the right. With the perfectly groomed hair.
That’s the Henry O we are all holding in our prayers tonight while he is still with us. 
As I look through photo after photo of the good old days with Henry at EAA, I’m struck with the thought that he was always in the back row. He was the “PR Guy”.
He did a lot of his work in the background, making Paul and EAA look their best.
And as I scan across photos of my ride in Frecce Tricolori, or Neil Armstrong, or Cliff Robertson, or getting to ride in a Huey chopper in the air show…it was Henry in the background. He wasn’t in the photos of us standing in front of the plane we just got to ride in, or the celebrity we just were photographed with. But it wouldn’t have happened for me in the foreground if Henry wasn’t in the background.
The “kids” in these cell phone days would never understand why, when we wanted to have a private conversation during Oshkosh, we turned our radios off. And then took the antenna off.
And then took the battery out. It was just one of our inside jokes. Just like sitting at Daniel’s after a long day at the convention and calling each other so Paul would overhear us and think we were still working at 11pm. Or the joke we would play on people acting like we were French and Henry was a famous French aerobatic pilot
Ah, the good old days.
Henry always did things with class. And style. There was a tradition to follow.
And at the loss of one of our comrades, we would adjourn to the local bar to commiserate.
Henry would order a drink and place it on the bar in front of us. And we would tell wonderful, and funny and touching stories until the ice had melted in the drink.
When I saw Henry at this year’s convention I asked him again about that tradition. So when Paul died, we took that tradition to Herbie’s Acee Deucee to celebrate and share all our good stories about “the boss”.
And so with sadness, yet tradition…we will gather one day soon at the Acee Deucee to tell stories about our beloved Henry, as the ice slowly melts in his drink.