It’s been said a million times—“do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” John Zapp and Aileen Hummel of Fort Worth, Texas, are among those who have one of the most rewarding jobs there is—the one where they’ve combined their passion, hobby, and interest with their career path.
They are both pilots and they are both musicians. Together, they have formed a nonprofit corporation, The Flying Musicians Association, Inc. Since June 2009, Zapp and Hummel have made it their quest to encourage, promote, educate, and support their two passions.
“We plan to visit various music and aviation programs around the country. Our goal is to share the excitement and advantages of aviation and relate how those skills acquired with music can transfer to flying an aircraft,” said Zapp, a private pilot for nine years who plays the guitar and sings. “A big part of the Flying Musicians is to find mentors for interested kids. We will partner with interested youth. Anyone who is enthusiastic about aviation and/or music and is eager to share their passion,” he said.
The pair planned their first major event, the Fort Worth Spinks Fly-In Musicfest on November 7, 2009, where flying musicians from around the country will appear to showcase live music and attendees can enjoy a variety of aviation activities from aircraft rides to aircraft displays.
“We have received a surprisingly tremendous response,” said Zapp about the association, which sprang from hangar talk at the 2008 EAA AirVenture. “While we were sharing our experiences of flying and then with music, we discovered that we know of many pilots who are also musicians. The thought of gathering everyone together for a weekend jam sounded like a fun idea.”
Zapp and Hummel belong to several pilot groups and organizations and are involved with mutual aviation projects, which is how they met. They have also played music together and collaborate on arranging music.
“It is so easy to forget all your cares and troubles while flying. It has been a therapeutic escape for me. The same with music; I find myself transported into another world,” said Hummel, a private pilot for 14 years with multiengine commercial ratings and instrument privileges.
Her primary instruments are the piano and the flute, but with Hummel’s work as a hospice music therapist, she also plays the guitar, autoharp, recorder, hand drums, harp, hammered dulcimer, and various rhythm instruments.
“I have occasionally loaded my musical instruments in my 1968 Piper Arrow, which I own with a partner and have flown to various towns outside the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, to provide therapy service to hospice patients,” said Hummel, a music enthusiast since childhood. She took on flying as a challenge when her children went to school.
“Music has always been a part of my life, too, from countless hours playing in school bands to performing and now writing, but I’ve always wanted to fly and have always been involved with aviation on some level,” said Zapp. “Through this program, we can develop that same passion, increasing individuals’ self-worth and self-esteem, providing them with positive lifelong skills that can be transferred to other aspects of their lives.”
What can you do? Make the first step by visiting the Let’s Go Flying Web site and share it with a friend or two.