“Individually we are all very good, but collectively – we can be magic.”
“That’s one thing you learn when you race at Reno. There’s all these airplanes, the noise, the action… But, then you meet the people and get to know them. It becomes a family. Pretty soon you realize it’s really about them. “– William “Bill” Kerchenfaut
One of my favorite people in the world left us this November. William Evan Kerchenfaut, “Kerch” to his friends, was so much more than a “guy with a screwdriver” he was an amazing mentor, a kind soul, and a winner.
For many of his closest friends, we were all treated to these late evening phone calls that came to be known as “Kerch-a-thons”. He would always start with “Am I interrupting anything?” almost apologizing for calling. I was always happy to hear from him and sat in a comfy chair, poured myself a glass of Merlot and prepared to get today’s life lesson.
Many of you know him, know of him, know his legacy – but let me tell you a little bit about the Bill you didn’t know.
Bill grew up on a farm in Illinois. His dad owned a J3 Cub and he learned to fly back then – seems that was how it was done back then. No radios, no towers, no FAA – just jump in the Cub and go. He learned about hard work, how to fix machines and how to constantly search for more knowledge.
He enlisted in the Air Force but wasn’t able to get a coveted flying spot. He ended up in the next best thing, Aviation Maintenance. Here he excelled.
Later he came to Air Racing. Kerch was always part of winning teams, including Conquest, Dago Red, Strega, 232, and Voodoo. It wasn’t a coincidence – he was a big part of those winning programs.
Winning was in his blood.
Working with great individuals including Darryl Greenamyer, John Crocker, Tiger Destefani, Mike Brown, Bob Button, Stevo Hinton, Skip Holm, and Bruce Lockwood, he was exposed to some of the finest.
When he started working with Darryl, he had never seen a Bearcat before. But, he was a quick learner and was later known to say, “If you want to really go fast, get a Mustang”. So much for the Bearcat, I guess.
He was known to say, “You need three things to win Reno, good airplane, good pilot, and good crew”. All of those things need to work together, all of them are important.
I wanted to share this with you, something that was shared with all of us at his Memorial. And if you ever had the pleasure of sitting with him for a while, you heard many of these. As you start the New Year, please keep these Kerchisms in mind.
Have a wonderful 2017.
by Bill Kerchenfaut
We are all in this together
We must trust each other.
We must help each other.
We must RESPECT each other as human beings.
We must accept our own strengths and weakness and those of others.
We don’t have to get along all of the time, BUT we don’t have to be mean.
Everyone has feelings – respect them.
The job is easier if we cooperate.
In doing a job or solving a problem the TRUTH is what matters.
BLAME will not solve a problem nor get the job done.
Making someone look bad will not make YOU look good.
Everyone is different and unique – enjoy the difference – don’t judge.
I Don’t Know is an acceptable answer.
If there is a problem, try to come up with a suggestion or a solution.
Perception is not reality – TRUTH is REALITY.
Realize that people are dynamic – they are in constant change.
It is OK to change your mind based on new information.
Ask for help -- Offer to help.
Praise each other for a good job and for hard work.
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!