A Dream Realized
I started to love flying the moment I flew with my father, who was a private pilot at the time. I was around 12 years old and my dad took my flying in a rented Cessna 150. We were visiting my grandmother in the mountains of Pennsylvania and to this day I can still see her and my grandfather standing on their deck together while she waved a towel at us as we flew overhead. For my 16th birthday my present was some instruction of my own. I completed a few hours here and there but never really had the money to pursue a license.
I joined the military soon after and after a few years of looking skyward in jealousy I took some more lessons. Again budget issues did not allow me to continue towards my dream of earning a private ticket. I was nearing the end of my 3 year tour of duty in Okinawa, Japan at the time when I read about ultralights. I had never heard of or seen them before but I almost immediately knew it was going to be for me.
All I really wanted was to fly, I didn’t care about cross country, night time flying, etc. I looked up the EAA and found some local enthusiasts and started getting involved. I took some lessons and bought a quicksilver and was able to finally fly on my own. I wasn’t so satisfied with the controllability so I traded up to a single place Challenger. I had that for a while before selling it to help with buying a house.I planned to return but my military duties prevented me from flying for a while. During this time away the sport pilot license came out and I missed the transition period to count the hours I had towards sport pilot.
I saved some money while I was deployed so that I could take lessons with a CFI-SP after returning from Afghanistan. I wanted to ensure I had enough to complete the training so there would be no financial reason to stop. I earned my license and found a great Challenger two place that allowed me to share my dream with passengers. My hangar was about 40 minutes away but it was the closest hangar I could afford that was relatively convenient. I started to yearn for an airplane that I could leave tied down on the ramp so I could keep it at the airport that was 3 miles from my house (no hangar space and very expensive if there was one).
I realized that it would be cheaper for me to build and I always wanted to try anyway so I started looking. Luckily for me I found a basically new Sonex kit that had been sitting for a few years. To make it even more tempting, it was located close to me. I went and looked at it and decided to buy it. I sold my Challenger and hangar and I spent the next 15 months building furiously in every spare moment I had. I worked faster than the majority of builders do, but since I sold everything to afford the kit, I had little distractions. It ended up being a good thing, since it was my sole motivator. I wanted to get back in the air.
On 3/23/2013 the airplane kit that was originally sentenced to a life on the shelf in the back of a carpet store became an airplane! The airplane and engine performed perfectly and I was able to finally feel the rewarding sensation that comes when you see something you built with your own two hands take to the skies. To anyone who is dreaming or working towards it, keep going and you will find your reward too!
Location: Jacksonville, NC
e-mail address: [email protected]