Aeromoe's dedication to a great friend
On Dec 4th, 2006 I received a phone call and was told that our very good friend and world renowned photographer, aviation enthusiast, and railroad photographer Mickey Bednar - a.k.a. AirNikon - was found passed away in his residence late the previous week, apparently of natural causes.
Mick's probable attitude towards me for creating and maintaining this page
Mick was born in the Pittsburgh area in 1956. We became friends through the internet in the mid '90s and soon realized that during the '80s we'd both been published, literally on the same pages, in the British airline news magazine World Airline Fleets Monthly (later known as World Airline Fleets News) published by The Aviation Data Centre. We sparked up an online friendship, at times spending hours chatting about planes and computers. After our initial meeting in 1998 Mick and I became good friends. Despite the physical distance between us, we managed to get together, often a couple of times a year, to chase planes and trains and catch up on what we didn't talk about during our numerous phone conversations. He was a great listener and would seemingly put 'whatever' aside to chat about just about anything. I'm sure he was probably multitasking on the other end of the line, as many of us have become accustomed to doing, but he always made time for our phone calls. Plain and simple he was just a great guy who certainly left this world much too soon. The absence of his photographic talents and friendship will be missed by many people.
Quick Links within this page:
And now for some pictures of our friend Mickey. Please click on the thumbnails for larger images.
This is a historic image of Mick practicing the art he would become so well known for during the next three decades. Airport unkown, but the date on the T-shirt (1977) is probably not too far off the mark.
Another historic image, this time of Mick at the controls in 1978. Obviously a posed photo taken inside a hangar.
Gotta love that late 1970s hair style! Compare to just 2 years later a few photos down.
Instrument training while "under the hood."
On a road trip to Seattle in 1978, presumably somewhere between southern California and the pacific northwest. Check out that Air California L-188 shirt he's wearing.
A photo dated 1980 I used to date the photo below. Mick looks very contemplative in this portrait.
This is an image of Mick at the controls of a Cessna above southern California. I don't know the exact year of this photo but I'd place it around 1980 based on some recently received photos. He sent me this via e-mail some years ago.
An undated photo taken by a co-worker, most likely at Long Beach, CA. Nothing wrong with Burger King, but Mick probably spent more time in greasy spoons than at fast food joints. He often uploaded reviews of restaurants, airline meals, hotels and the like. We'll probably never know just how many web sites Mickey was connected to in one way or another.
In late 1998 Mick and I finally met face-to-face at LAX. We're standing in the old "Air Canada / Little Cargo" parking lot near the threshold to the runways 25. Two trademark Nikon film cameras are at the ready.
This image was taken on May 10th, 1999 while onboard Reeve Aleutian Electra N1968R enroute Anchorage - Dillingham. Mick was also a fan of the Electra and we agreed to make a trip to Anchorage together to try and fly aboard one of the very last passenger L-188s in service. We had a great trip.
Mickey had worked at Air California / Air Cal as a dispatcher before the merger into American Airlines in 1987. During his days at "OC" he tells me he'd flown in the Electra many times, including the coveted cockpit "jumpseat" which dispatchers are authorized to fly in. As such, Mickey was all for my idea we fly up to Anchorage and try to get a ride on what was probably one of the last passenger Electras in service.
He stayed on with American a short time but got hired by McDonald Douglas sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. He was with McDD at Long Beach after the Boeing takeover and stayed with them until about 2004 or 2005 when he refused a move from Long Beach and quit Boeing.
One of the reasons Mickey has so many photos on Airliners.Net from so many "exotic" locations around the world is from his work in the airline industry and McDD / Boeing. I can't remember his exact job at Long Beach but he often travelled on delivery flights, check rides, etc...maybe something to do with crew training. In any case, he's flown on a potload of the airliners that came out of Long Beach. Also, he just loved to travel and managed to get out of Southern California whenever the opportunity arose.
We had a great trip.
Here's another image onboard the Reeve Aleutian Electra N1968R enroute Anchorage - Dillingham. While we were waiting in Dillingham for the Electra to return from St Paul Island (and take us back to Anchorage), I was treated to a short (and FREE) roundtrip flight aboard an Arctic Circle Air Cessna cargo run to the community of Togiak. The Arctic Circle Air pilot asked if one of us would like to tag along and Mick let me choose if I wanted to go. It was a cool hour round-trip flight. Thanks Mick!!
And here are yet some more images from the Electra trip:
Here's a photo of Mick in January 2000. We were at LAX for some plane watching and we're parked in what's known to us as the "Limo Lot" at the east end of the runways 24. As stated in the paragraph below, I was moving from northern California to Illinois...and rarely do I take the great circle route to get anywhere. If you look closely at Mickey's license plate on his Chevy you see it reads SNADDOC - it has to do with (formerly) being an Air California ("OC") dispatcher at SNA - the airport code for Orange County, California.
In Jan 2000 I relocated from Travis AFB in northern California to Scott AFB near Belleville, Illinois. Scott is located just 30 minutes away from St Louis and the area offers plenty of opportunities to have fun. Being a railfan, I was very happy to be moving
near the third-busiest railroad city in the U.S. The second busiest, Kansas City, is just a few hours to the west and Chicago, the busiest railroad city in the U.S. is just a few hours to the northeast. My move also meant Mick would be able to visit me in the midwest and we'd be able to watch planes and trains in the heartland. Mick's first trip to visit me was in April 2000 and I drove to Chicago and picked him up at O'Hare. We spent most of the time watching planes at the local airports and I probably even took him to a train yard
or two. Understand until now, Mick was a dedicated plane photographer but I think the seeds were being planted and he would soon realize that train photography offered an acceptable alternative to aircraft. I might have some photos or slides that include Mick at airports
or trackside during 2000-2002 but the following photos are the ones I easily located.
In August 2002 I drove to Kansas City and picked Mick up at the airport for a weekend of roaming around the Omaha, Nebraska area. We ended up visiting the former SAC Museum between Omaha and Lincoln; we railfanned Council Bluffs, Iowa for a while; photographed planes at Omaha's airport, and paid a visit to a neighbor I used to live next to thirty years earlier. The day we were at OMA airport and shooting trains in Council Bluffs was about as pleasant a mid-summer's day in the midwest as one could hope for: little humidity and extremely nice
temperatures. It was a great trip. The only thing we forgot to do was visit the "Bertrand" steam ship excavation that is on the shore of the Missouri river somewhere north of Omaha.
While trackside north of Council Bluffs, Iowa, I caught a couple photos of Mick photographing a northbound coal drag on the Union Pacific line on the Iowa side of the river. I just located and scanned these slides in January 2009. Please click here to see Mick's photo of this train he uploaded
In Feb 2003 Mick and I did some railfanning around greater St Louis during a very nice snow event. One of our first stops was the Museum of Transportation on the west side of town. Soon after we arrived the young lady on duty was given permission to close up and take the rest of the day off. Before we departed, we grabbed a couple shots on the grounds. This is Mick next to an ex-Burlington Northern caboose.
Here's Mick standing in front of one of the museum's resident steam locomotives.
The eastbound Amtrak Ann Rutledge pauses in Kirkwood, MO before the final sprint to St. Louis Union Station. The daily train eventually terminates in Chicago after beginning the journey in Kansas City. The train is named after the woman who was apparently Abraham Lincoln's first love interest.
Out in Eureka Missouri between the BNSF and UP mainlines we catch a couple trains during the snowfall. Here's Mick watching a BNSF pass by.
The St Louis Car Company dinner train locomotives were always favorites to railfans visiting St Louis. These units have since been sold off and no longer operate in St. Louis.
We also paid a quick visit to the Manufacturer's Railway in downtown St Louis. Here Mick shoots a photo of a couple "foreign" switchers in the small yard.
The KCS engine facility in East St Louis, IL nearly always had a small cache of locomotives present and provided an easy opportunity for some photos.
Centralia, Illinois and the three mainlines intersecting downtown is a great railfan hangout. Here's a grab shot of Mick standing next to a coal hopper in the small BNSF yard.
Mick getting a dose of brisk winter air near the Illinois Central/Canadian National and BNSF mainlines in downtown Centralia, IL. He looks none too pleased that I'm grabbing yet another photo of him.
On the scanner we heard the Norfolk Southern #223 approaching the town of Dix, Illinois so we stopped for a grab shot. Mick is visible in the far right of the frame.
Another trip Mick and his buddy Ralph made was to Greybull Wyoming to view the various aerial fire bombers operated by Hawkins & Powers. This photo was taken on May 3, 2003.
Mick and I met in Chicago in late May 2003 and drove up to Janesville, Wisconsin for the day. On the way back we stopped and spent the night in Rochelle, IL for some railroad action the next day. Mick loved shooting "critters" such as this diesel powered contraption used to move railroad cars around industrial tracks. May 25, 2003.
During this trip we also visited the railroad museum in Union, Illinois. We took a ride on a vintage Chicago, Aurora and Elgin electric car, the CAE 309.
Here's a portrait I took of Mick of him taking a photo of me. Onboard the CAE 309.
This is one of the trains we rode that day, the CAE309.
Caught this MickPick during one of his better moods. I think I may have just come out of the bathroom and he was needing to get in. May 2003.
A couple of e-photos Mick gave me were these self-portraits of him and his Camaro SS. He's just messing around with the
"Mean Mick" look. Mickey had a heart of gold despite some of his playfully ornery gestures he sometimes exhibited.
Instead of driving the 45 minutes from Scott AFB, IL to St Louis airport on September 5, 2003 I decided to ride the Metrolink from one end of the line to the other (70 minute trip) to meet Mick at the airport. Here we see him standing on the platform while waiting for the eastbound train back to Shiloh, Illinois.
The Sep 2003 trip was for the Scott AFB airshow and some railfanning. This photo shows Mick in a typical stance, utilizing the wide angle lens to advantage.
Very cool to see the Soviet/Russian Antonov 124 on the field that day. Too bad we couldn't get inside to see this
former Eastern Bloc knockoff of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.
I don't think Mik was actually asleep when I took this photo...I must've caught him in mid-blink.
Here's an AirNikon photograph of yours truly at our squadron booth. Diane Budnick is behind the counter ready to serve the customers with a smile :)
After a couple hours on the ramp at Scott, we headed east to New Baden, IL then west toward St. Louis. The industrial grittiness of Granite City, IL hosts numerous trains daily including the Amtrak trains serving St. Louis. This spot turned out to be one of Mick's favorite locations in the greater St. Louis area.
Among the various trains through Granite City, IL this day was this westbound Norfolk Southern manifest. Personally, NS is my favorite railroad.
Thankfully, we made it to the Missouri side on the river late in the afternoon of September 6, 2003 in time to catch the St. Louis Car Company dinner train getting ready to head across the Mississippi River to a local casino. Mick enjoyed seeing this beautifully-painted F9PH on the tail end of the train. He's using the bed of my truck as intended...a raised photography platform. Please click here to see one of his photos of the same unit in the stable at St. Louis Union Station under different weather conditions.
Mick and his friend Paul often travelled together to airshows and on railfan outings. Here we see Mick on the ramp during the Edwards AFB airshow in October 2003 with the original NASA 747 N905NA.
February 2004 Mick once again came out to visit Illinois and we spent a couple of days roaming around central Illinois and the greater St. Louis area. We visited such places as Decatur, Springfield, Illiopolis and a bunch of obscure little towns searching for just about
anything to photograph. I found this photo in late January 2009 and it shows Mickey between two "gate guards" at the Springfield airport on February 14th, 2004. On the left is an F-84 and on the right is an F-86. That is of course Mickey in the middle.
On February 15th, we decided to take an Amtrak train ride from St Louis to...somewhere. We ended up going to Hermann, Missouri on train
#303, the Anne Rutledge. This train was a good choice since we could get off, hang around the town for an hour or two and ride back on the next Eastbound. We were dressed for it, but it was fricking cold. The eastbound #306 was a bit late for our return trip...but we made it back to St. Louis no problem.
Below is a photo Mickey took of me during the westbound trip.
Below are some photos from Hermann. Our train departing to Kansas City; the Amtrak information board; the "Amshack" building serving as the "depot" for Hermann. If you click on the info board you can see
the schedule for the trains. Our #306 should have arrived about 6:53pm but we didn't see it until about 8:10pm. Mick kept wanting to go sit in the bar (who could blame him) but I pretty much insisted we
stay in this shack for fear of missing the train back to St. Louis.
On Feb 16th we played around the gritty St Louis metro area, including a little bit of time in East St. Louis. In this photo we see a nortbound Norfolk Southern train rolling along the Alton & Southern Railroad while passing under the State St. Bridge.
Here we are between the tracks in Granite City, Illinois and a short Gateway Western local heads north towards Lenox Tower. Lenox Tower is very cool place and I think it was Mickey's very first trip to visit me in Illinois
we stopped by Lennox Tower in the dark and after knocking on the door, we were actually given a brief tour of the tower. That was likely my 2nd visit inside the tower. Below is a photo of Lenox Tower looking south and a photo
of me a buddy of mine (Tracy Bone) took inside the tower in April 2000.
Still in Granite City, here is Mickey actually watching a southbound UP coal train, Yes, Mickey is standing too close to the tracks but it was clear both directions.
South of Alton, IL and the westbound Ann Rutledge (Chicago-St. Louis-Kansas City) approaches at road speed (probably 65-70mph.) Next stop is St Louis Union Station (actually a 'temporary' building serving as the Amtrak station) about 30 minutes away.
Because I would be retiring from the Air Force and moving to Arizona in June 2004, Mick and I made our last midwest roadtrip in May 2004. This time I rode Amtrak from Centralia to Chicago aboard the famous "City of New Orleans." I arrived around 9 in the morning and in a role-reversal it was Mick who picked me up this time. We spent the weekend around the greater
Chicago area before he dropped me off at a Metra station near O'Hare. I rode the commuter train back to Chicago for the Amtrak trip home while Mick stayed at O'Hare for his flight back to California.
Soon after I arrived, I suggested we find the Roosevelt Road overpass and try to get some Amtrak action. While Mick is not in this photo, we were side-by-side shooting the busy Amtrak and Metra action in downtown Chicago, Illinois.
On the morning of May 16, 2004 we caught this southbound BNSF manifest in Lockport, Illinois.
Mick's first visit to me in Arizona was September 2004. We decided to railfan the busy BNSF mainline in and around Kingman Arizona. Kingman Canyon turned out to be one of his favorite spots for photos in that area. We ended up spending the night in Needles CA but not before
parking in a dark location near the river and watching a very cool monsoon thunderstorm/lightning show to the east in Arizona for about an hour. Next morning we were up and headed back to Kingman to spend the day railfanning the BNSF
around Kingman before working the line west back towards Seligman. Below are a few photos from the Kingman Trip.
We watched at least one train pass over this bridge some distance to the east of Kingman, AZ.
Despite the fact there is some pretty cool "Eastern" power on this westbound BNSF, once Mick got the shot he wanted, he didn't really care what else might be in the consist.
Here Mick shoots an eastbound pig train roll though downtown Kingman.
Mick watches an eastbound roll through Kingman Canyon on Sept 19, 2004. We drove more than a few miles in that 1996 Toyota...and it's still going strong in late 2010 with over 341K miles on it.
An eastbound BNSF on the mainline approaches the entrance to what's known as Crozier Canyon. This is between Valentine and Peach Springs.
In April 2005, Mick came to Arizona for the Davis Monthan Air Show. While railfanning the Union Pacific, this photo was taken trackside near Casa Grande, AZ the day before the show. At times, it was tough to get a smile out of Mick, let alone it last long enough to photograph. In typical Mick fashion, he gives me "the evil eye."
I don't think this had anything to do with his demeanor...he had a helluva sense of humor and often laughed at even the smallest thing. I just think he was always contemplating the next photo.
A shot of Mickey watching a westbound UP train roll by near Casa Grande, AZ.
During the trip we ventured to Benson, AZ to find an obscure short line as well as the abandoned airfield. We found both and enjoyed a couple of Union Pacific trains along the way.
In this photo I think Mick had decided to hike across the desert. I made sure he didn't stray too far while warning him to watch out for rattlesnakes and slow-moving locomotives.
Unfortunately, the weather for the Davis Monthan AFB airshow the next day wasn't as nice:
On the ramp at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, Mick is telling me to go get back in the truck and stop taking pictures of him.
Here Mick checks out the cockpit of an HH-60G.
Ralph, another of Mick's travelling buddies, emailed this photo to me after seeing this webpage. They'd travelled to Chandler (AZ) Memorial in March 2006 to document the dwindling population of big Douglas props. Here we see "Gangster Mick" standing next to what's left of one of the Chandler residents. It was a brief trip for Mick and we didn't get the chance to hook up that weekend.
Though I LOVE to fly, a rare occurance was me flying somewhere to meet up with Mick...he usually paid me the visit. We decided to meet in San Jose, California and attend the Champ Car Grand Prix race in July 2006. Mickey, and avid race fan, looks on from the background (wearing the #3 Dale Earnhardt hat) as I take a photo of my nephew A.J. Allmendinger following a qualifying round. Mick eagerly followed the budding career of A.J. and I'm saddened to know Mick won't get to see A.J. make his NASCAR Nextel Cup debut in 2007 driving the Red Bull #84 Toyota Camry and #84 Car of Tomorrow. For 2008 the premier NASCAR series is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
I snapped this photo of Mick in San Jose, CA during July 2006. We were there for the Champ Car Grand Prix weekend and used the VTA light rail often. The Air Cal shirt and Nikon neck strap are AirNikon hallmarks.
After the Champ Car qualifying in San Jose, we took a drive to Stockton and Elk Grove in search of planes and trains. This Union Pacific grade crossing in Elk Grove presented us with 3 trains in quick succession. On the way back, we found a truck stop in Flag City (I-5 and Route 12 crossing) and ate at the buffet before heading back to San Jose. July 2006
Another Union Pacific train at Elk Grove, CA. July 2006. I don't think he could really appreciate the units being an SD40-2 and a "Tunnel Motor" leading this train.
Mick unknowingly poses with a couple of Copper Basin Railway 'Geeps' at Hayden, AZ in September 2006. The railway's president and CEO 'Jake' Jacobson personally escorted us around the yard, gladly accomodating my wishes to photograph each and every locomotive.
Jake schools Mick on the finer points of running a mining railroad. Jake was truly sincere in ensuring our brief visit was pleasant and educational.
After our personalized tour of the Copper Basin Railway facility, Jake invited us to an off-site workshed where this restored
railroad vehicle is located...very cool indeed.
The following images are the last photos I have of AirNikon. The date is Sep 30, 2006 and we're standing near the BNSF Transcontinental mainline just east of Williams, AZ. I've had that 1996 truck the entire time I've known Mick and it's very likely his ass has been in the passenger seat more than anybody else outside my family.
In another classic example of Mick totally ignoring the subject after he's got his photos, here we see him reviewing what he'd just captured while a westbound BNSF train rolls past at Maine, Arizona.
After spending the night in Winslow, AZ we head east on I-40 for the relatively short drive to Holbrook. Holbrook is where the BNSF Railway interchange with The Apache Railway and its' fleet of venerable Alco locomotives. In this view we see the inbound Apache train slowly approaching the yard at Holbrook and of course Mick has turned away after getting
some shots, even though these are some of the rarest locomotives operating in the country!!
A couple hours later, the return Apache Railway freight has departed Holbrook. More often than not, Mick didn't stick around to watch the train roll by. Once he got his shot(s) it was back to the truck. Alcos are infamous for their very smokey exhaust when under load, due to a condition in the powerplants known as "turbo lag" if I'm not mistaken. Mick got to witness this a few minutes earlier, though I think his upload to Railpictures.net was rejected. Below is one of my unpublished photos of the string of smokey Alcos departing Holbrook. If Micks photo got rejected, mine probably would have too so I didn't bother trying.
Our last get together turned out to be near the end of October 2006. Mick drove over from So Cal and we chose to railfan the UP again, this time at Shawmut. The photo below is the very last photo I took while shooting with Mickey. It was Saturday October 21, 2006 and we closed out the day of railfanning the UP with a westbound near Gila Bend, Arizona at a location on the railroad known as Shawmut. After driving back to Glendale and finding a mexican restaurant to eat at I dropped Mick off at his hotel, not knowing of course this was the last time I would ever see him. The next day he attended the Goodyear Airshow and drove back towards Blythe and up to Parker to spend the night. Thankfully we spoke several more times on the phone during October and early/mid November.
I intend to post more photos of AirNikon as I locate them.
Links to Mickey
Airliners.Net Mickey's 10,000 photos at Airliners.Net There were 9,999...then later that was changed
to 9,998, and now in October 2010 I see there are 10,000 photos on the site! Excellent!! But where did it come from?? Maybe a queued photo that was overlooked?? Is Mickey still approving Airliners.Net photos from "beyond"?? We'll never know...or will we?
Ahhh - there is an earthly explanation after all. Pima Air and Space Museum (custodian of his collection) uploaded two photos in March 2010 to bring the total back up to 9,999 and 10,000 respectively. AWESOME!!!
Railpictures.Net Mickey's 772 photos at Railpictures.net
Memories of Mickey
Best known in aviation circles for his aviation photographs, AirNikon probably had as many different interests as he had cameras. Below is a short list of the things he enjoyed that I know about.
- Nikon cameras...period.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers. Did I say 'period?'
- Golf. Though he hadn't played in a few years, he used to love playing as often as he could.
- Computers. Probably cursed 'em as often as he didnt.
- Hooters. The restaurant where you get great, uh, service!
- United Airlines. i.e. his status as a Preimer member in their frequent flier program. Not that he thought was better than everyone else...he just enjoyed the benefits and would make trips, stay in hotels, and rent cars just to maintain the mileage requirements.
- The weather. He always enjoyed my first hand cell-phone accounts of severe storms in the midwest and Arizona.
- State and county fairs...travelled the country to many different venues.
- Garlic. He loved the stuff.
- Fry's Electronics superstore noted for their weekly newspaper ads. We visited one of the two in Phoenix during his last visit here in late October 2006.
- BBQ flavored potato chips. Would try as many different kinds as he could...though usually not in the same sitting of course.
- Trains. Post-9/11, I think he took up railroad photography during our visits in order to keep the cameras functioning between airplane photo outings.
- GPS. He enjoyed his new vehicle GPS. Was fascinated by the thing. We used it often during the recent San Jose and Arizona trips.
- Believe it or not: soap operas...the daytime TV kind.
- Building plastic models. I know he collected and built a lot of military types and, of course, airliners. I think some of his models are on display
in the Ontario, California airport terminal.
- The musical stylings of Steely Dan. I did learn he wasn't a big fan of Led Zeppelin.
Travels with Mickey
- Late 1998. Finally meet face-to-face at LAX after a couple years communicating via e-mail and instant messages.
- May 1999. Flying separate itineraries, we meet at Anchorage for the Reeve L-188 trip. It was a blast.
- Jan 2000. Meet up again at LAX during my road trip to my new home in Belleville, IL.
- Apr 2000. Meet up in Chicago for some photography at the local airports. Mick gets his first taste of train chasing.
- Aug 2001. Chicago/Milwaukee trip. Mick actively photographs trains at Wisconsin Central yard in Fon du Lac, WI.
- Aug 2002. Kansas City / Omaha trip. Visit the former SAC museum. Railfan Council Bluffs, IA. Visit Offut AFB south of Omaha. Buy beef jerky at the base shopette.
- Feb 2003. St Louis trip. Major snow storm...treacherous roads. Had fun chasing trains in the foul weather.
- May 2003. Chicago/Janesville, WI trip. Ride Metra into Chicago and watch the airshow over a very soggy Lake Michigan from the Navy Pier.
- Sep 2003. Scott AFB airshow trip. Railfan greater St. Louis area.
- Feb 2004. St. Louis trip. Nicer weather than the Feb 2003 trip...we were hoping for another major snow event.
- May 2004. Chicago trip...in a role reversal, I ride Amtrak to Chicago and it's Mick picking me up (usually he flew to our destination and I drove there.)
- Sep 2004. Kingman, AZ trip...we spent the night in Needles, CA after spending an hour watching an amazing night-time lightning show to the east. Railfan Kingman Canyon...he loved the place.
- Apr 2005. DMAFB airshow trip.
- Jul 2006. San Jose, CA trip. Visited SFO, OAK, SJC, STK and a few other smaller fields. Despite having grandstand seats (my treat) we watched the Champ Car race on TV from inside the lobby adjacent to pit row.
- Sep 2006. Winslow / Williams, AZ railfan trip. Mick gets a kick out of watching me change a flat tire on my truck.
- Oct 2006. Gila Bend / Goodyear, AZ airshow trip...our final get together. Mick joins my daughter and I for a birthday dinner at a Red Lobster on Friday the 20th. We close our Saturday the 21st railfanning day by first entertaining the idea of visiting the state fair in Phoenix, but pass on that for a visit to a Fry's Electronics. A bit later we eat a Mexican food dinner in lower Glendale after which we discover my truck has another flat tire (same tire actually as at Williams Jct on the BNSF.) I get it changed in about 15 minutes and then drop Mick off at his hotel. That's the last time I see him, though we chat on the phone a few more times during the first half of November.
Somewhat humorous anecodotes (guess ya had to be there)
- First morning in Anchorage, Mick INSISTS I replace my sneakers (due to an alleged foul odor...I couldn't smell it.) We drive to Elmendorf AFB and I get a new pair at the base exchange; I end up tossing
the old ones in a dumpster on base, again at his insistence. We spend a few somber moments viewing the memorial to the E-3 Sentry bird-strike crash located on base.
- During a winter visit to Illinois for train chasing, Mick just about freezes in Dupo, IL; same trip different location he ends up crotch-deep in a snow-filled ditch while setting up
for a train photo. He kindly advises me to "watch my step" (though I bet he was tempted NOT to warn me.) Later, while waiting for our return Amtrak train in Hermann, MO (in the unheated matchbox called the 'station' - Amshack is more like it),
we both nearly freeze due to my insisting the train "is almost here." Turned out to be about 90 minutes late but we didn't dare wait in a bar across the street for fear of missing our only way back to
St. Louis. (I don't know if he ever truly forgave me for that!!)
- During the Omaha trip, near Council Bluffs I treat Mick to the sight of me running top speed through a bean field in a nearly ill-fated attempt to photograph a train. The most humorous part to Mick were the hundreds (thousands?) of grasshoppers that took flight during my temporary invasion of their homeland.
- Interestingly, it was Mickey who turned me on to Railpictures.net, an online photo repository. Even though I introduced him to railroad photography during 2002, Mick found the website soon after it was formed (in early 2003) and told me about it. I think he even has a lower member number than I do.
- Mickey persuaded me to buy my first digital SLR camera. I’d been shooting some digital with a nice Kodak point-and-shoot since September 2002 but when Canon introduced their 10D in spring 2003, Mickey told me about it and I immediately ordered one (with a couple of lenses) online and had it by the end of the week. I haven’t shot three rolls of slide or print film since.
- On all our outings, we HAVE (HAD) to stop at nearly ALL the small airports anywhere close to our route of travel. As much as I like airplanes, Mickey just had to try and shoot one aircraft at any airport he could so he could get it posted on Airliners.net photo website. He was, afterall, the head “photo screener” for the United States at Airliners.net and at the time of his passing he had the most photographs posted to that website: 9,999. Since reduced to 9,998 but raised up to 10,000 by the Pima Air and Space Museum uploading two more photos! Bravo!!
- On both of the most recent trips, Mick gets a kick out of watching me changing a flat tire on my truck, exclaiming he's NEVER changed a flat tire in his
life. He wonders out loud why I just don't call AAA. Wuss.
During our relatively brief friendship, I learned a lot from Mickey. He was college educated. He was pretty street smart. He was wise. As much as I learned from him, I was able to repay the favor on occasion. I'm sure more will occur to me over time, but here's a short list of stuff I educated Mick on:
- The difference between a waning moon and waxing moon (he actually asked me about this...go figure.)
- I'll think of something.
- I'll think of something else.
- And believe it or not, I turned Mick on to Google Earth. As much as our buddy was on the internet I'm surprised he didn't find this one first. Much as he insisted I immediately dump the sneakers in Anchorage, I insisted he immediately download Google Earth and check it out. The next day all he could say was "you bastard. you bastard." Guess he stayed up half the night on Google Earth, most likely looking for evidence of abandoned airfields...or how close he could zoom in on women in bikinis for his bikini photo site. ;)
Our friend Mickey Bednar was laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery on Jan 29, 2007. Below are thumbnail images of Mickey's memorial service. Please click on each image to view a larger photograph.