Catching up on my reading, the annual report of the Sporty’s Foundation had worked its way to the top of the pile. As I was flipping through the pages I was not really thinking about the good works presented in words and pictures. I was thinking about Jay Leno’s last night as host of the Tonight Show, when he joined the 68 children born to staff members during his 17-year tenure, his “legacy,” he said. Would there be a stage big enough, I wondered, to gather Hal Shever’s legacy? Maybe Aero Shell Square at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh?
Sporty’s 501(c)(3) foundation is entering its third year, but Hal, its chairman and founder, has been giving back to aviation for more than four decades through the corporate philanthropy of Sporty’s Pilot Shop. More than an astute businessman, he is an indefatigable teacher of flight whose eye is always looking to the future. “If there is no freshman class,” he’s told me more than once over the years, “in four years there will be no graduates.”
Multiply the foundation’s work over the past year–awarding $151,355 to the aviation related activities of a diverse group that ranges from the Aircraft Electronics Association and AOPA Air Safety Foundation to the Boy Scouts of America and EAA Chapter 838–by four decades and many more groups and activities, and that’s a pretty good crowd right there. Then think about the possibilities of the Foundation new partnership with the EAA Young Eagles to create The Next Step, an effort designed to jumpstart the number of young people who learn to fly.
But that’s only part of the Sporty’s freshman classes. The rest of them, college students and recent graduates work for Sporty’s Pilot Shop and any number of Hal’s other aviation endeavors in flight training, maintenance, and avionics. It would be interesting to gather this group that launched its collective career at Hal’s Batavia, Ohio, headquarters separately, tally the number and variety of aviation-related firms they now work for, and ask them a single question: What is your most memorable experience from the hot dog feast that Sporty’s holds–rain or shine–every Saturday at the Clermont County/Sporty’s Airport (I69)? — Scott Spangler