by Susan Dusenbury, VAA President, VAA 5721, EAA 55229
On December 9, 2017, VAA Director Emeritus Charlie Harris flew his final flight West. With Charlie’s passing aviation has lost one of its strongest supporters and an icon in the vintage aircraft movement. Charlie was a person of impeccable character that so many including myself were fortunate to call their friend.
Charlie gracefully and successfully managed to juggle his time between his business, Transportation Leasing Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his lifelong passion-antique airplanes. Charlie acquired his love of airplanes as a young boy through spending time with his father who was also an avid pilot and owner of private aircraft.
Charlie was at the very heart of the Vintage Aircraft Association serving at times as Director, Treasurer and Chairman of the Executive Committee. At the time of his death Charlie was serving as Director Emeritus of VAA (1998-2017) and as the Chairman of the VAA Hall of Fame Committee. There were several other less formal but very important projects that Charlie and I were working on together at the time.
Charlie also loved to write and write he did!! Many of us will remember those voluminous newsletters that were penned by Charlie when he served as the Newsletter Editor of VAA Chapter 10 in Tulsa. I have a small filing cabinet full of Charlie’s letters written to me over the years. Sometimes I received two or three of his letters in one day. I enjoyed his letters so much that I would sit in my truck at the end of my drive and read them immediately.
Charlie wrote great letters. I kept them all. They are mostly handwritten and were usually written on lined paper from a legal pad. The contents of his letters contained such interesting historical information or anecdotes and such sage advice that I felt the need to keep them for future reference. Maybe I would learn something!!
I am sure that most of you are unaware of the fact that Charlie was still writing for VAA up until those last few weeks when he was just too ill to write. Charlie authored many of our letters to the membership as well as other informational pieces for Vintage Airplane.
In closing, I’ll just say that Charlie will surely be missed by his friends and by aviation. There’s a big gap here.