On Saturday – the last big day of racing at Reno this year, I snagged a moment of Mrs. Penney’s time while her Husband John Penney was visiting his favorite fans in Section 3.
Saturday was hot – about 98 degrees. It was mid day in the direct sun and Stephanie was so sweet to indulge me as I placed her behind the box seats in front of the Section 3 fans. Her back was to her husband who just happened to be wowing long time fans by signing tee-shirts, caps, bodies, programs, taking photos, shaking hands, or whatever… it’s Section 3 after all…
John Penney being the accessible pilot for which he’s known, takes time each year to personally meet and greet the loyal race fans of Section 3. You can see some love for the fans in the background of this video interview.
For years I have been watching Stephanie & John Penney walk hand in hand from the pits to the tarmac line where the Rare Bear sits waiting to be flown in Sunday’s final big race. (The only time media is allowed to be close to all the aircraft at race start.)
Even though the gregarious Pilot John Penney shakes hands with all other pilots, RARA officials, Pace Pilot Steve Hinton Sr., the friends, crew and some long-time photographers with whom he’s made friends; Stephanie is always the last person to touch her husband before he enters the cockpit of the Rare Bear.
I so admire passion when I see it in others. Observing only a small sliver of time, I’ve witnessed the mother load of passion in the Penney family. I’ve seen a quiet ritual between them for many years.
With a small kiss and a few spoken words, they share a confirmation of knowing the inherent risks and potential dangers in the next flight. And in so knowing, choose to embrace the shared passion of flying with a meaningful moment of understanding, support and affirmation of what is most important: each other.
So there is my inspiration for wanting to talk with Stephanie Penney. Now that she has two members of her family flying, I thought it would be interesting to learn how she copes with the stress, if any, and see if there really are rituals that keep the family strong.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Stephanie!
Good Luck and God’s Speed to the Flying Penney’s!