Piloting his own plane has been Terry Hocking’s lifelong dream.
“Our minister took me for a ride on his plane when I was a kid,” Hocking said. “Ever since, I always wanted to fly but it wasn’t until 1976 that I could afford to.”
Hocking’s plane is a Cherokee that was built in 1962 and he has owned it for 22 years. The single-engine plane has a low-wing design and room for four people. Hocking said he chose a Cherokee because it gave him an opportunity earn his instrument rating.
He said the challenges are what drew him to piloting his own aircraft.
“It’s a challenge of epic proportions,” Hocking said. “Flying challenges my mind and it expands my horizons. There’s nothing else that compares to flying.”
Hocking and his wife, Karen, were among the 24 pilots and their families who participated in a mass formation flight of Cherokees from the Waupaca Municipal Airport to the 2011 EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh Friday, July 22.
“For years, we watched a group of Bonanzas fly into the EAA with as many as 120 planes in mass formation,” Hocking said. “I wanted to do that.”
Flying in a large formation offers its own challenges for the pilots.
“You don’t just take 20 or 30 airplanes, put them together and say, ‘Let’s go flying.’ We’re taking our pilots out of their comfort zone and asking them to do things they normally wouldn’t do. They normally wouldn’t taxi so close together and they normally wouldn’t fly so close together,” Hocking said.
Four members of the group came to Waupaca on Sunday, July 17, to prepare the final groundwork on the flight. Participants flew in from as far away as Florida and Arizona. Hocking is from Nashwauk, Minn.
The day before the flight to Oshkosh, members of the group practiced takeoffs, landing and flying in a box-pattern formation.
Hocking described the group’s experience in Waupaca as “scoring a home run.”
“The airport had enough room and infrastructure so we could train. Peter Anderson, the airport manager, was agreeable and helpful. And we had great accommodations at the Comfort Inn and the Waupaca Ale House,” Hocking said. “The city of Waupaca has been very accommodating.”