Friday, January 19, 2007

Cartoonist responds to criticism, shares memories

I got a note today from Rik Dalvit, a freelance cartoonist whom we regularly feature on the opinion pages of Capital Press. Rik saw the letter we received from Andrew Moore of the National Agricultural Aviation Association about one of his cartoons on ag pilots. Rik shared some of his thoughts with me, and I asked his permission to share those thoughts with you.

Mr. Moore wasn't very happy with the cartoon we published in the Capital Press. If you missed that, I wrote a post about it on our other blog and also posted it on this blog.

Here's Rik's response:

I read the letter from Andrew Moore, and your response.

His use of the word "storming" rather than "buzzing" made me wonder if he actually saw the cartoon.

That cartoon remains a favorite of mine, when I did it, I never intended, nor did I think it would offend anyone.

My dad was a pilot, not an ag pilot, but a civilian recreational flier, and I was privileged to spend some incredible time in the air with him and also on the ground, hanging around the small airport where the plane, a surplus Fairchild trainer, he co-owned with a buddy was hangared.

One day we watched a pilot flying a Stearman spraying an orchard, and marvelled at the skill he exhibited.

I have watched ag pilots flying on other occasions, recognize their skill, and respect the work they do.

I have respect and appreciation for everyone in agriculture, an industry which is the foundation of a stable civilization, and prevents the necessity of all of us being wandering hunter gatherers.

I especially like working for Capital Press because of the very readership it serves.

I really liked Rik's note and his sharing of the anecdotes about his father. It reminded me of many happy times I spent hanging out at airports and airstrips with my dad as a kid. The memory he shares about seeing a Stearman spraying a field reminded me of my dad and my uncle and the Stearmans they both used to use for spraying.

Dad kept one Stearman for many years, long after he had upgraded his spray planes to more modern and more efficient models. He sometimes talked about taking the spray tank out of it and restoring it to its original two-cockpit configuration. I would have loved that. I never got the chance to ride in an open cockpit plane, even though I was around them a lot in my youth. They'd all been converted to spray planes, with the front seat taken out to make room for a tank to carry ag chemicals.

I wrote a post a while back about how difficult it is to buy gifts for my father. There's only one gift I ever got him where I felt maybe, just maybe, I got it right. I got my dad a print of a painting that showed two Stearman's and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle's in it. The original painting by Stan Stokes is called "Two Ways to Fly." Stokes' work is featured prominently at the Palm Springs Air Museum. I took my dad there once and he seemed to admire Stokes' aviation art.

When I saw the "Two Ways to Fly" print, it reminded me of my dad when he was a younger man. One of my favorite photos of my dad is an old black-and-white picture with him posing with his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. And I have a very fond memory of a ride I once took with my dad on his Harley. I don't know how old I was, but I know I was pretty small. I sat up on the gas tank, with my hand on a center portion of the handlebars. And as I mentioned early, there he did some of his early flying in Stearmans. The ones in the print aren't spray planes, but when I saw that print I saw my dad.

I should have bought one of those prints for myself.

Thanks for sharing, Rik. I enjoyed reading about your memories which sparked some very pleasant ones for me as well.

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