Skydive in Silhouette

Memories of Mike and Our Common Family
-jim wine-

I would like to tell you a little bit about my friend Mike Sommer and his extended family. Mike’s passion was flying, and his extended family has been the Flying Circus Airshow in Bealeton, VA.  Like most of us, Mike’s introduction to the now 30-year-old Flying Circus was from the audience side of the fence at a young age.  Hooked on what he saw, Mike started working with his sister at the Circus as ground crew.  After attending college and joining the Marines, he found his way back to the old show grounds and was appointed Head of Ground Crew. Rumbling around in a restored military truck, he poured his heart into making the show the best it could be.  He always had a smile and worked to ensure that people, audience and performers alike, enjoyed themselves.

Last Friday evening we got the call that there had been a crash near the airshow grounds.  News travels fast within a family, and soon we knew it was Mike and his instructor.  They had been out flying in preparation of his check-ride, when they found themselves in a bad situation. Neither Mike nor his instructor survived the
subsequent accident. Our family of pilots, skydivers, wing-walkers, performers, and crew has spent the last few days trying to come to grips with our loss.

Less than 48 hours after the crash, our Sunday show went on dedicated to the memory of Mike.

As would be expected, this week has seen his family crying together, reminiscing together, laughing together, and pulling together.  Members who had not been seen in years due to their own personal obligations came to pay their respects, and renew their ties to this extended family.  Through his family and friends, I have learned more about Mike in the last week than I ever had known.

Wednesday was the memorial service, and in a few days we will be scattering his ashes on the wind at his beloved airfield.

Like any performance, the Flying Circus’ show must, and will, go on. We understand the dangers we face, but for those called, we must mount up and go again. Mike is gone, but I know that he will always be flying with us.

May God watch over you and those who share your passions in this life.

(c) Copyright 2000 by Jim Wine
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