Dewey Davenport

Modern-day barnstormer

AOPA’s Sharples Award is given to someone who has made extraordinary contributions to general aviation. The 2021 honor was presented to Dewey Davenport.
Photography by Edwin Remsberg
Photography by Edwin Remsberg

For more than 20 years, Davenport, first officer at NetJets, has been a true ambassador for GA—especially throughout the Midwest. Davenport is a modern-day barnstormer, introducing thousands to flight each summer in his 1930 D-25 New Standard and 1929 TravelAir 4000. His business is called Goodfolk & O’Tymes Biplane Rides.

“Dewey is an accomplished aviator, but he will be the first to say that his biggest victories lie in the future aviators he has introduced to this wonderful passion,” said AOPA President Mark Baker in presenting the award. “Dewey’s passion for aviation, commitment to inspiring this next generation, and successful advocacy efforts made him the perfect choice for the 2021 Laurence P. Sharples Award.”

How did you get started in aviation? My fascination with flying evolved from a life of dreaming, building model airplanes, hearing old airplanes flying over my home. I had two friends in high school who would go with me to airshows. Flying was a big dream. When I was working overseas, a friend sent me rare books and movies like Richard Bach’s Nothing By Chance and Gates Flying Circus and Upside-Down Pangborn. This big dream evolved to travel around and meet people, to fly this biplane around.

Biggest challenges? I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan 10 times, so I saved a lot of money, but when a friend was killed in Afghanistan, I quit my job. Mentally I just couldn’t do it anymore. When I got home, I just flew to every place I could get to; it’s corny, but I never want to keep my feet on the ground.

Favorite aircraft? I think it would have to be the New Standard as there are only eight flying in the world—and it holds four so I can take a whole family flying together, which is why I call it “Full House.” I also love my 1929 Travel Air I call Ace and my 1947 Aeronca Champ, which I have owned since I was 20.

Favorite aviation activity? There are very few of us true barnstormers. Less than 10 of us, I think, and my success is because I use social media. I remember everyone I have flown and keep photos of everyone. I’ve flown thousands of people and I love them all. I call it “meeting America.”

What does the future hold? Aviation is and always will be a top priority, but I may slow down this year. I usually fly 15 events a season. I love helping kids and do a lot of stuff with schools. I am thankful for all the people who have helped me, but like the Great Waldo Pepper said, the show must go on.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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