Rolling Through Father's Day

by Robyn Elliott on June 22, 2009

IMG_0969I had the pleasure today to spend Father’s Day with Jenn and her Dad, Jim.  Jennifer Green is a talented jewelry maker, marketing specialists and all-round interesting  young woman. She’s also one of those very fortunate people who can say, “I’m really lucky, I have great parents!”  Yes, Jim…that’s a quote (happened outside Fresh To Order).  I get the feeling that Jenn’s parents must be pretty pleased with their daughter too.  Jenn treated her Dad to a bike tour for Father’s Day and I believe a good time was had by all! Jenn’s parent’s moved to Atlanta  few years ago —  following their Daughter from SanDiego after she moved here to pursue her career.  Ahhh… retirement is a wonderful thing!  Picking up and moving across the country to be able to closer to your daugther.  Yeah, I think Jenn must be pretty special too.

It was really great being able to spend time with a father and daughter today.  It’s Father’s Day and when your own Dad is not around to enjoy, seeing the love I saw today was a little bitter sweet, I must say.  My own father passed away in 1989 with Cancer.  He was only 63.   I was 29 when he died and now at 50, it seems so unbelievable that he left us at such a young age.  “Pops” as I loved to call him, was a quiet man, thoughtful and a kind spirit.  

An amazing thing happened a number of months ago regarding my Father.  After this event, I wrote an email to a small group of friends, and I have decided to share this email with any blog readers tonight… in honor of my Dad on Father’s Day.

Dear Friends,


I had a 3rd appointment with a my PT today, his name is Tom.  We were wrapping up and just kind of chit-chatting, and he mentioned something about “model airplanes”. 


I said, “oh, you fly model airplanes?”.  here’s the rest of the story…  


Tom: oh yeah

Me: oh, my Dad flew model airplanes,  do you fly radio control?

Tom: no, actually I fly control line.

Me: You’re kidding, you still fly control line?  I didn’t know anybody flew control line anymore.


…model airplanes were born on a wire (actually 2 wires) – Control line flying is where the pilot stands in one place and circles around with the plane on a wire.  That’s how my Dad did it.  I remember the first time he built a radio control plane, I was probably about 10 or 11 ~~ we went to this big field and his plane took off, flew into the horizon and never came back!   He did fetch it, but it took a long time before we found that sucker! We laughed a lot that day.  Back to the story…. 


Tom: Oh yeah, there are still some of us left.  I am actually the US distributor for control line products.

Me: Wow!  How long have you been flying?

Tom: Oh about 50 years.  


At that moment, I thought Tom must have known my father, but I figured Tom was still too young and it would just be unlikely.  I asked how old he was; he was 60. … I asked the next question thinking it was almost presumptuous. 


Me: Well… I wonder if you might have known my father…  Bob Elliott??


Tom smiled


Tom:  The 1954 Stunt Flyer National Champion?  


… my mouth is open… I am stunned.  I can not even begin to describe the feeling.  


Tom: That Bob Elliott?


Me:  ahhh, well …I think so… 


Somehow, I didn’t know this exact fact about my father. I knew he had won trophies.  They had been everywhere when we were growing up.


About now, I’m starting to feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone.


Tom: The first time I ever saw anyone fly a model airplane, it was your father.  I was 10 years old, it was the summer of 1958 in Athens, GA.  I stood there and watched how your Dad flew that plane, and I said “THAT is what I want to do!”  I’ve been doing it and loving it ever since.  


26He started telling me about the Black Tiger airplane plans that my father designed and that he (Tom) still sells those plans today.  Apparently Dad sold the plans to a model airplane plan company (probably for next to nothing).  He was telling me all sort of things I never knew about my own father.  It was like he was telling me who my Dad was out there in the world.  Tom said, “you could say that I am like the offspring of your Dad.  Seeing him fly, not just that day, but all the times I saw him fly, was the reason why I do what do. He made a huge contribution to model airplane flying.”  


Me:  Do you think we’ve got the right Bob Elliott?

Tom:  Is your mother’s name Sara?


About 10 years ago, he met Mom.  The Model Airplane Association (or whatever they are called) had their big Southeastern annual competition in Tifton, GA and invited Mom, David, Paul and Betsy (I was living in Boston at the time).  At the end of the competition when the trophies were handed out, they presented (for the first time) the Bob Elliott Award, a stunt pilot trophy.  Tom officiated the event.  


Tom said, “everybody who has been flying for any amount of years, knew who your Dad was. Your Dad was big deal.”  My Dad is a legend and I didn’t even know it! Now granted, this was a small group of people, but to watch Tom talk about this, you would have thought my Dad was a super hero. How cool was that?


It was an amazing discovery to learn more about my Father after he has been gone for 20 years. If our parents only knew how much we really want to know about them, not so much as our parents, but for who they were out there in “their” world, they would be surprised.  


I know I went a little “off topic” from cycling on this blog, but again the time I spent with Jenn and Jim made me remember him and want to honor him.  


I hope you all have a wonderful Father’s Day! Thanks for reading.   





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