Off to Fly
I had the privilege recently to join my wife in developing an ad campaign for a very likable pilot named Brad Morehouse. He was without question one of the most easy going builder/developers an agency could work with, and even though we only spent four days this year with him on a photo shoot at his home in Afton, Wyoming, he was what I would call a friend.
So it was with great sadness that we learned Sunday night that Brad had perished in a air racing accident this past Thursday while racing his L-39 Albatross fighter jet at the Reno Air Races.
Like most pilots, Brad welcomed other pilots and their families into his world as if we were all one big family. With his wife Leslie, Brad made Julie and I feel right at home as we photographed Brad's Afton Airpark, a residential fly-in community that he has been developing along with his partner, Barr McCutcheon. From the moment Brad picked us up in his Cessna 310 at SLC, to the morning of our departure from the Star Valley, Brad and Leslie played host in a manner that any traveling photographer would always remember. Ask for it, and it was mine. Move something into a better position to claim more preferable light, consider it done.Brad was a joy to work with as a client. As Julie and I developed his campaign for the airpark, he didn't question our recommendations. As with any campaign, there is plenty of give and take, and always a few moments of light to moderate turbulence. Through this "getting to know each other" phase any agency must work through with a new client, Brad was a gentleman first, and a client second. He treated Julie with complete respect, and we looked forward to his phone calls.
We love our aviation clients, especially the colorful ones like Brad Morehouse. He never let us forget he was a pilot first and foremost, and when he was going through the training that was required to become PIC in the brand new TBM 850 he bought this year, he called us...just to chat about airplanes. And when he called to talk shop on advertising and I answered, he always started each conversation with "doing any flying, Dan?" And anyone who knows me, knows that question is music to my ears.
Brad was a guy who lived life to the fullest. He raced cars, he owned a stable of great airplanes, he bought and sold land with relative ease, and was a very successful car dealer back in the day. But as a pilot, he liked to keep it light, and I found out early on that like most pilots, he liked to kid around a bit. We found this out big time on the morning we were to depart Afton and head home after the shoot. Here's the kind of thing that gave Brad Morehouse a chuckle:
The plan was that he and Barr were going to fly us back to SLC in the C-310 to catch our commercial flight back to EUG. But with very low ceilings and icing in the WX forecast, Brad had to launch Plan B. He told us not to worry, he would loan us a car to drive to SLC, it was handled. So we packed up and he drove us to his FBO at KAFO where we finished up the last details of business. When we walked outside to get in the loaner, waiting for us was a gigantic Hummer H2, the biggest vehicle I had ever seen. This particular Hummer was owned by Brad's friend from Utah who had "wrapped" the H2 in a gaudy full-color Real Estate ad that shouted down to the other cars that drove by underneath the mammoth's windows. We would be doing Brad a favor by returning the Hummer to SLC, and as we climbed in, you could see the wide grin on his face. He was getting a really good laugh out of forcing two Oregon liberals to be seen driving a Hummer through one of the reddest parts of a very, very red state.I cannot imagine what his family must be feeling right now. And while nobody on this Earth can say why good pilots are taken before their time, there is only one thing I can say about this tragedy:
I believe every pilot – when pushed to answer the question – would say they would rather leave this life at the controls of an airplane then by any other means. With that in mind, flying his L-39 flat out around the pylons at Reno was what life was all about to Brad, and he passed on doing what he loved.So the next time Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle and Papa Louie jump in Doolittle's solid gold B-25 to go burn some of that endless AvGas we know is waiting for us in Heaven, they can now take Brad along for the joyride. I hope Jimmy lets him take the controls for a while, because I'm sure he'll give them all one hell of a ride.
I didn't get to know Brad Morehouse well enough and anyone who did should should consider theirselves lucky. I looked forward to flying our new 235 over to Afton and learning how to live from this great and pleasant man.