STUART, Fla. — While the last physical reminders of this year Stuart Air Show were being taken down Monday, there will be a memory that will linger for years to come. Dr. Joseph Massesa died Friday during a practice run.
“He did what he loved and he will never be forgotten," said Dewey Vinaya, the Air Operations Coordinator for the Air Show.
Vinaya says Massesa was a first time performer, but a long-time participant with his OV-1 Mohawk.
“I would put that aircraft out on our line and he would put chairs out and people would come out and sit. Veterans would come out and sit and talk," said Vinaya.
Ellen Arnold of Stuart recalled how a doctor/patient relationship a decade ago, quickly turned into a lasting friendship.
“I saw pictures of airplanes on the wall. My husband asked one question, and it was probably an hour-long conversation in the waiting room full of patients," said Arnold.
Massesa’s friends say he got to do the two things he liked to do most in life, help people and fly.
“He was always going to be considered part of the Stuart Air Show, he called us home, and we considered him family," said Vinaya.
Massesa's family and the Air Show plan to work together in the future to create some type of memorial.
With the weekend rain causing the show to be canceled, there was also a concern about whether local organizations that get funding from the Air Show would still get that money.
According to the International Council of Air Shows, the Stuart Air Show has a $2.5 million economic impact locally. It costs about $1 million to put on this show, and the money that's leftover is usually given to local non-profits.
At the United Way of Martin County, Elisabeth Glynn explains that they provide support for 56 local organizations.
"The support we get from the Air Show allows us to broaden that even more so we can touch as many lives as we can," said Glynn.
The United Way gets several thousand dollars a year from the Stuart Air Show, an event close to Glynn’s heart.
That’s because she was at one time the Air Shows’ Executive Director, and was on scene this weekend volunteering.
Even as mother nature created havoc, Glynn wasn’t worried about losing a donation.
“Honestly it was how we can help our Air Show family in the light of a tragedy and how can we bring people together,” said Glynn.
Turns out, the United Way, and others may still get that money.
“We know those line items are budgeted every single year, and we still intend on financially supporting those organizations and fulfilling our mission," said Air Show Executive Director Skylar Morgan.
Morgan adds all tickets that had not been scanned this year, can be exchanged for a voucher for next year's show. They are still working out whether that process will go through the Air Show or their ticket company.