Automobiles and airplanes seem to share a natural affinity as mechanical means of conveyance. Find a spot where aircraft are designed, built or assembled, and it's a safe bet there will be fascinating automobiles nearby.
So it didn't come as much of a surprise when a group of Vintage Chevrolet Club of America members rolled onto the grounds of the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita on one of their frequent regional tours.
Billed as the VCCA's eighth annual southern fall tour, it drew 44 vehicles from 12 states, according to Richard "Tiny" Thomas of Arkansas City, who served as the tour master.
"We're having a great time," said Bill Bradford, who was at the wheel of his 1932 Chevrolet 5-window Sport Coupe, his wife Sheila at his side.
"This is the third day of the tour... we have one more day of touring before we head home," said Bradford, who lives in Katie, Texas.
The group, transported by vintage Chevy cars and pickups from the 1920s through the mid-'50s, had already spent a day touring museums in Ponca City and the Arkansas City/Winfield area.
Some of the older cars were trailered to the host hotel, unloaded and then used to see the sights, Bradford said.
"These old cars are capable, but kind of slow," he chuckled.
Denny Christian of Ames, Iowa, was driving a bright blue 1941 Chevy Master DeLuxe 2-door sedan that he bought in 1979, sold 14 years later and then bought back in 1998. "It was ready for paint and a new interior by then," he said.
He has no trouble keeping up with the flow of modern traffic, as his car is equipped with a 383 cubic inch tuned port fuel injection engine that began its life in an IROC Camaro. It also offers air conditioning and cruise control.
This was its first time back on tour and he staged the car in front of the museum's huge B-52 bomber for a few snapshots. "It's a fun car, but it really doesn't fit with this particular group of cars," he said.
Ron and Orpha Eyres of Kechi didn't have far to drive their vintage Chevy to take part in the tour, but it was a one-of-a-kind ride: their 1936 Chevrolet fire truck, featured on the Wheels page earlier. They posed their truck alongside a KC-135 tanker for photos.
Franklin Gage came all the way from Greenbelt, Md., and was making the rounds of tour stops at the controls of a bright blue 1927 Chevrolet Sport Cabriolet with his trusty travel companion, Ringo, a mixed breed dog, in the passenger seat.
"I bought this car five years ago from the founder of this tour," Gage said. "It's a wannabe convertible because the cloth top doesn't go down on it."
But the most inspiring duo on the tour had to be Al and Rita Severyn, both over 85 years old, who drove their trusty 1930 Chevrolet coupe from Ohio, a 4-day trek.
"This was only a short run... 1,100 miles," said Al. "I drive one hour and Rita drives one hour. Rita looks at her watch and says, 'I still have five more minutes.'
"We don't trailer the car anywhere. It's a lot of fun driving. I always felt if we can't drive, we don't want to go. The adventure is getting there."
Rita recounted a problem they had on an earlier outing in their old Chevrolet when a carburetor problem sidelined them in Macon, Mo. She was sitting in the car in a repair shop, reading a book, when a man in a pickup drove up and walked around the car, sizing it up.
"He was wearing overalls and a straw hat that looked like someone had taken a bite out of the brim," she recalled.
"You never leave an antique automobile unattended."
Finally, the man, noting their Ohio license plates, asked if they had driven all the way from there. She said they had and told him they were on their way to San Francisco.
The stranger observed, "You're a nice lady, but you're crazy" before getting back in his truck and driving off, Rita said.
Their classic Chevy, which made it to San Francisco and back home, has 92,000 miles on it, Al said proudly. "It's nice from afar, but far from nice," he said.
One thing it is for sure: dependable fun.