‘Joyce East meets Joyce West’

BOURBON — Joyce Rust, resident of Bourbon for 31 years, recently had a special visitor — Joyce Rust of Chehalis, Wash.
The women found each other two years ago, after Washington Joyce did an Internet search of her own name out of curiosity. The search turned up Bourbon Joyce—and the women discovered that they not only shared the same name, but also the same passion — flying.
‘Joyce East and Joyce West,’ as they began to call themselves, are both pilots who had been flying their own Cessna planes for years.
“I thought, hey, she’s got my name and my airstrip,” said Joyce West, referring to the grass airstrip christened “Rust Landing” at Joyce East’s Bourbon farm.
The Joyces became Facebook friends and exchanged several messages. Bourbon Joyce, a semi-retired occupational safety professional, began to follow Washington Joyce’s blog, agrannysplaceisinthecockpit.blogspot.com.
However, online communication wasn’t enough. The two knew that they had to meet, and Washington Joyce couldn’t wait to land her plane on “Rust Landing.”
Washington Joyce, who recently retired from working in information technology, flew into Bourbon Sunday from Ashland, Ky. She is in the business of landing in as many states as she can (she’s currently at 27).
The Joyces flew their planes to the Plymouth airport last Monday morning, taking advantage of the first fair-weather day in a while. During the visit, they also went to a Bobby Vinton concert at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend. Both women fondly remember swooning over Vinton in their teenage years. The show, they said, surpassed their expectations and they were pleasantly surprised to learn that Vinton “still has it.”
“I had no idea that he could play three instruments,” exclaimed Washington Joyce.
Bourbon Joyce said that she has enjoyed showing Washington Joyce around Bourbon and Marshall County. The two visited Bourbon author Will Erwin, ate at Christo’s Family Restaurant, and met many of Bourbon Joyce’s friends.
Both women were astounded by how similar they are.
“We feel like we’ve been friends for a hundred years,” said Bourbon Joyce, smiling at her new friend across the table in her sun porch.
“It’s uncanny,” agreed Washington Joyce. “It’s like we’ve known each other forever, but we’ve really only know each other hours.”
One experience they share is the way they became hooked on flying. Both Joyces took one lesson and immediately loved it. Bourbon Joyce flies as often as she can, including monthly trips to Florida and Flying Farmers of America (FFA) conferences with her husband, Wendall, who is also a pilot.
“He’s a gentleman — he always lets me fly when I want to,” added Bourbon Joyce.
Washington Joyce flies all over the country and chronicles her experiences on her blog.
“She’s more adventurous than I am,” said Bourbon Joyce, laughing.
As the two discussed their escapades in aviation, they continually found additional common experiences. Although both acknowledged that flying is not a cheap hobby (aviation fuel is about $5 a gallon), the Joyces believe that the experience is worth it.
“We have a motto in our house—’will work for avgas,’” said Bourbon Joyce jokingly.
Washington Joyce loves to encourage young people—especially girls—in aviation.
“There are virtually no women pilots (in the U.S.),” said Washington Joyce, adding that she thinks about 6 percent of all U.S. pilots are women.
She will be hosting a high school girl’s essay contest in Minnesota in the upcoming months, encouraging girls to write about their interest in flying. Each winner will be able to fly with Joyce as a prize. Both Joyces have taken children on flights before, and Wendall (Bourbon Joyce’s husband) once took up a little boy who became a professional pilot later in life.
The women plan to continue corresponding about their flying adventures. As Washington Joyce wrote on her blog, “I think I’ve found a lifetime friend.”