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JULIE VESSIGAULT: MY AIRSHOW WORLD

                             My ICAS Miracle

      A n astonishing thing happened to                                  was I had to purchase my airfare on the same Southwest Airlines
                                     me a week before the 2018 ICAS      flight as Walt’s ASAP.
                                     Convention. This is that amazing
                                     story.                                 When I returned home to Kissimmee, I composed a GoFund-
                                  It all began, though, in 2011 when I   Me campaign, because for me to make this trip out-of-pock-
                               took on a lifetime role of airshow mor-   et was impossible. I had confidence that with a little help from
                               al support that has blessed me with       many friends, I could produce an epic win-win experience that
                               very unique airshow experiences and       would enable me to help make Walt Pierce’s ICAS experience ex-
                               connections. I wear my life purpose on    tra awesome.
                               my sleeve, and that purpose is to make
                               a difference for good in aviation, espe-     Sure enough, my friends came through and the necessary
                               cially airshows.                          funds were raised! While I waited for GoFundMe to release the
                                                                         funds to me, Mark Sorenson of Tiger Airshows and Jacquie War-
                                  Back in 2012, I first met legendary    da of Jacquie B Airshows graciously pitched in extra to book my
American Barnstormer, Walt Pierce. I visited him a few times             flight and hotel ASAP. I called Walt with the good news that he
each year at his Avon Park, Florida hangar, eating up his stories        would have me as his airline buddy. He was thrilled to hear it.
and abundance of airshow knowledge.
                                                                            I also coordinated with ICAS and Walt’s daughters on their
   In due time, Walt’s well-deserved induction into the ICAS             logistics for Walt, to make sure everything I did was a welcome
Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame was announced. He would                 bonus to their plans as they already stood. It all came together.
receive his honor during the Chairman’s Banquet at the 2018
ICAS Convention at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on De-              I picked up Walt the evening before our flight, and we report-
cember 6.                                                                ed to our flight at Orlando International at 5:30 a.m. Just a few
                                                                         hours later, Ginger and Chandelle, Walt’s daughters, met us at Las
   Up until a week before ICAS, I had no role to justify the ex-         Vegas/McCarren International Airport (LAS). I helped them get
pense of my participating. But then, almost randomly, I arranged         the lay of the convention and Walt settled down to rest for the re-
with a friend in Winter Haven to clean the grime off the bottom          mainder of the evening. My availability proved to be a great com-
of his Super Decathlon and T-34, what I call an airplane “belly          fort and benefit to the three of them.
rub.”
                                                                            Walt told me for days after I returned him home to Sebring
   When that project was finished, I happened to stop by Steve           that he was still on Cloud Nine. I cannot thank the 26 friends and
Alcorn’s hangar to wish him and JoAnne a Merry Christmas. His            members of my airshow family enough for making this “ICAS
enthusiastic greeting rolled right into Steve offering me a mission      Miracle” happen. I am blown away by your generous gestures and
and opportunity – give Walt a ride to the Orlando International          for caring for both Walt and me.
Airport so that he could attend his induction into the Air Show
Hall of Fame. This minor role excited my hope that perhaps I                My mission to provide moral support to my airshow family
could follow through as Walt’s escort all the way to Las Vegas and       will continue. Thank you for your boost of confidence. Wish-
back, while assisting his family during the convention. The catch        ing you all a successful 2019 airshow season. May your wings be
                                                                         strong and your flights fulfilling!

    ICAS Foundation Air
     Show Hall of Fame
    inductee Walt Pierce
  (center) is surrounded
     (left to right) by his
daughters Chandelle and
Ginger Pierce, Jim Zazas,
    and Julie Vessigault
  (photo by Ricardo von

         Puttkammer).
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