July 31, 2009
By Mike Collins
From left, James M. Inhofe III, James M. Inhofe II, U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Glade Inhofe, Perry Inhofe, and Cole Inhofe stand by the family’s RV-8 at Oshkosh.
It’s not uncommon for several generations of a family to attend EAA Airventure in Oshkosh together—even when it’s the family of a U.S. senator. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) has attended the fly-in with his sons, James M. Inhofe II and Perry Inhofe, for 31 consecutive years.
“These kids were 15 years old when we started,” Inhofe said, pointing to his sons. “We always camp out in the same place and see people we haven’t seen all year. It’s a lot of fun.”
Inhofe has been a longtime champion of general aviation and an AOPA supporter since he was first elected to the House in 1987 and later to the Senate in 1991. His efforts in Congress have included leading the battle for general aviation product liability reform, establishing VFR corridors in congested airspace, opposing the privatization of the FAA, and developing an appeals process for emergency certificate revocations. He was a major force behind passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, which was credited with reviving general aviation manufacturing in America.
This year, three of Inhofe’s grandsons joined Inhofe and his sons at Airventure. Both of Inhofe’s sons are pilots; Inhofe and son Perry also are flight instructors. “Perry is just starting to teach his oldest son, Glade, who just turned 16, to fly,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe, who has logged more than 10,000 flight hours in his 51 years of flying, said he averages three hours per week when the Senate is in session, and he flies around his district regularly to meet with his constituents. He arrived in Oshkosh on Thursday night and said he has to return to Washington on Sunday. Inhofe is camping near the family’s Vans RV-8 and Cessna 340; their Grumman Tiger didn’t make the trip to Oshkosh this year.
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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