As you wander through the thousands of aircraft parked throughout the AirVenture grounds, you might not be focused on the wooden chocks keeping the aircraft in place. However, I’d recommend you pay a little closer attention, as some of these chocks have been specially designed.
Tucked away in a workshop is volunteer Dave Jackson, EAA Lifetime 272361. Dave has been making custom chocks for almost 30 years, starting partly in thanks to his son’s job.
“One summer he worked for Basler,” Dave explained. “Every year, they lose so many chocks, and they have to make a whole new bunch of chocks. … They get to make their own stencil for each year. The ones [Dave’s son] made said ’93 on them.”
After getting a hold of some of these chocks, Dave decided he needed to make some, too.
“I used to make the FBO-style chocks, you know, the triangular ones,” he said. “Then, we’re working more and more with warbirds, and I went to the military style.”
Dave makes about 200 of these chocks a year, each designed with a variety of items like names, years, and fun decals. Much to Dave’s chagrin, many pilots like to take these chocks as souvenirs, meaning his 200 a year barely covers the ones that go missing.
“We average about 175 lost every year,” Dave said. “That’s a lot of chocks. Last year was a good year; I think we only lost 135.”
However, there’s one type of chock that Dave is happy to see taken — the chocks he creates to specifically honor one who has gone west.
“Well, the remembering program I started about five years ago … that’s probably the most important part of me making chocks,” he said. These chocks are fitted with the names of people gone west, as well as their favorite airplane. “Yeah, some of the chocks disappear, but I want to see them under the airplanes so that people say, ‘Oh yeah, I knew that guy,’ or, if a family member takes one, I don’t have a problem with that, because that’s also what they’re there for.”