Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 81

...Kappler rattling off stories of family members
who fought in the Revolutionary War, sailed
around the world, and climbed the Alps

CHRIS KAPPLER'S
3 FAVORITE WEST
VIRGINIA VIEWS
World War II flight suit, and Cindy and all
six kids, age 7 to 16 (including two sets of
twins), dress in period costumes, with the
girls in Ava Gardner attire and the boys
in mechanics' uniforms. Big Band music
plays in the background at the hangar.
"We were going to do this either 100 percent or we had no interest in doing it at
all," Kappler says.
In the air, passengers don leather helmets and goggles, feel the wind in their
faces, and enjoy rides tailored just for
them, over the rapids, rocky cliffs and
other spectacular sights in the New River
Gorge. A few customers prefer a gentle,
relaxing experience similar to "flying over
the Serengeti Plains and the sun glinting
off the wings, or a hot air balloon ride
over Napa Valley," Kappler explains. More
often, they ask for Red Baron-style loops,
rolls and other acrobatics, which Kappler
is happy to oblige.
"This airplane, for me as a pilot and as

a person, makes me slow down and brings
my senses alive," he says. "You can feel
the rumble of the engine, the vibration
in your seat and through your bones. You
can look out and see this beauty unfold
before you, like a moving postcard. You
really feel like you're part of the environment you're flying over."
In keeping with the pay-it-forward attitude he acquired from his first teacher in
Hawaii, the big-hearted pilot gives rides to
kids who can't afford them in exchange
for washing the Stearman or changing the
oil. Kappler also offers free tours to World
War II veterans.
In his spare time, he relishes long
back-road drives with his family in their
1937 Packard. He is teaching his oldest
daughter Stella to fly, hoping that one
day she'll take over the biplane tours.
"I want to be able to pass this on to the
kids," Kappler says. "This is a journey for
myself and my family."

NEW RIVER GORGE BRIDGE
"It's such an amazing contrast, and for
me life's about contrast. It's amazing
to see that steel structure, that architectural marvel, spanning over the
New River Gorge, which is so mighty
and so vast."
SUMMERSVILLE LAKE
"I have lived in some amazing areas in
my life, and that is far and away the
most beautiful lake with those cliffs
that jut out over the water. When I
have a customer call up and say, 'I
want to do the Summersville Lake
flight,' I try to act like I'm not super
excited."
HAWKS NEST
"I fly over Hawks Nest and I'm amazed
by the beauty, but also the history of
those miners who dug through and
made the tunnel for one of the first
hydroelectric plants. I look down there
and I wonder about those people
and their lives and what happened to
them."
-NH

JULY/AUGUST 2018

81



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 4
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover4
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