20mm: Well buddy you did it. How are you and the family? Has it all settled in yet, or you still in a state of disbelief?
Brad: We are doing well. Settled in? Well, not fully. I still from time-to-time, step out of our apartment and go look at the truck to have a smile and shake my head. It’s still an amazing feeling, and I really don’t see that feeling subsiding because every time I get in the truck it reminds me of the incredible journey this has all been.
20mm: What do remember most about the contest? What was the best? Anything that you could never have foreseen in your wildest dreams?
Brad: There are so many memorable moments. It’s really hard to just pick one, but if I had to pick only one it would be this: I will forever remember the first time I actually got to watch the completed video from beginning to end. When I got to watch it for the first time in its entirety, I just sat at my desk and wept. I cried because it was like looking at the inside of my heart and realizing it was my Grandfather who had given me this love of flight and now I was looking at it in words and video for the very first time. It was everything I wished I could convey and I just knew the Inspiration came from outside me. I knew my Grandfather was a part of it and I truly could feel his love shining through. The video as I mentioned in the video description was actually my last shot at trying to capture what I wanted for this piece. I had made two others and I just wasn’t satisfied with them.
To see The Dream of Flight for the first time was truly an inspiring moment for me. To have captured the emotion and beauty we all feel when we witness it’s wonder, made me feel like I had finally contributed something to the aviation community!
20mm: You have talked about the fact that you are not a professional photographer/videographer, that you didn’t have access the pros did. And yet, you succeeded in beating pros. How do you account for that? What’s your history in doing video, editing, sound, text, and combining those into one cohesive product?
Brad: How do I account for winning? Well, this is a very hard question to answer. All I can say is from the get go all I wanted was to share my heart…not to win the contest, but rather to honor my love for God, country, my Grandfather, flying and the new found Inspiration I had found in all of them. Flying to me has always been about love and hope and perhaps that’s what captured the audience?
As far as my history in the video work, well it’s been a passionate hobby of mine for years now. I have been producing many “just for fun” pieces for family and friends. I have always loved capturing images and sharing them. Sometimes it can be such a nice “ice breaker” when you meet new people or have people over. Many times all it takes is something beautiful to share with someone to get things started on the right foot so to speak. However, my video productions never really had any direction until August 29, 2006.
That was the day my 22 year old cousin Chandon McGrath died. I was standing over his grave crying and telling him how much I loved him when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the Blue Angels flew directly overhead in formation and I felt such Inspiration and at that moment I felt like everything was going to be okay. It was then that I knew I wanted to create video pieces to help Inspire myself as well as others.
This was the first death I had ever experienced in my immediate family and I was desperate for Inspiration so I grabbed my cameras and went searching for Inspiration. I was finding Inspiration to never be that far away. I was finding it in the beauty of my wife, the love in my children’s hearts, the flowers in my wife’s garden, the birds in the backyard, quiet walks with my wife, and the aircraft of Oceana NAB that are always overhead here in Virginia Beach. For the first time in my life I was taking the time to live the cliched phrase “stop and smell the roses.” Unfortunately, sometimes, it takes tragedies for some like me to understand just how amazing this life really is and or can be. You see, in life we all come to a crossroads and we have to choose the path we will take. Will it be one of hope? A hope that we can make a positive difference and find a strength in something bigger than us? Or will it be the path most traveled… the path of despair, surrender, the path of no hope. The path where we feel life has no meaning at all and we just give up. I chose hope.
20mm: You referenced inspiration and specifically the passing of your Grandfather “Pop”. Tell us about him. What kind of man was he, how did he influence you? If he were here today, can you imagine what he would think or say about the events that have transpired your winning the contest?
Brad: Oh this one is tough… real tough. My eyes are already filling up. Give me a moment here.
Let me begin this by saying, I now understand why they are called “grand fathers”. He truly was the grandest man I have ever known. He was always the “rock” of our family. He was the one we all could count on in times of need.
Here’s one memory I have of him that I think describes him very well. I remember taking walks with him to the store behind his house. We would be going for something as simple as a gallon of milk and he would always ask my brother and I to come along. We always loved being with Pop and he always loved being with us. Well, when we would get to the checkout lane my brother and I would ask Pop for a quarter for some candy and he would always say he didn’t have any, but we knew he did because we could hear them jingling in his pocket all the way to the store! He always had a few dollars worth of quarters in his pocket. Well after about 30 seconds he would reach in his pocket and pull out two quarters for us. I just knew he would “cave in” and give it to us. It was like a game my brother and I would play… counting how long it would take before he reached into his pocket to give us the quarters.
You see, he has always been a saver and “good steward” of his money and he didn’t like wasting a dime. However, he also didn’t like seeing his kids or grand kids feeling let down either. His love for us and wanting to see us happy always won that battle of the mind. That will always be my favorite battle I have ever witnessed because we all know that in the end love for your family should always win, right?
And as far as imagining what Pop would say… I know what he is saying to me every day. “I love you and I’m so proud of you Brad. I told you they would love it!”
And as usual, I just shake my head smiling… “yep Pop… you’re right once again. I love you Pop! With all my heart…every ounce of it.”
I miss him sorely.