Flying in High School
Flying In High School
There are not enough high school students learning to fly these days. I was lucky enough to get my private license my senior year and it really framed the rest of my life.
Here is that story:
The urge to fly didn’t begin for me as flying exactly; it started with space. I wanted to be an astronaut. Of course I wasn’t alone, my best friend Shawn and I spent every free minute together dreaming about space.
This evolved into flying because everyone knew that astronauts started out as test pilots, or so we thought.
As fun as space seemed, these two kids from rural Oklahoma were realistic; flying fighters would be a more than adequate consolation prize.
Our bedrooms were adorned with airplane posters and we read every aviation book we could find.
There was only one small detail. I had never flown in an airplane before, not even an airliner!
My parents, sensing the need to intervene in the ensuing obsession, called the airport and arranged an introductory flight (the subject for another article).
That was it! I was hooked! Lessons began immediately. I was 14.
Shawn also started lessons soon after, so we were really geek’d out at this point; freshmen in High School and taking flying lessons – what could be cooler than that?!
We both flew over that Summer and then the fun came to an end. Both our parents pulled the plug – too much money. We were too young to solo or anything so it was understandable.
Fast forward a year and now we have jobs to pay for car gas, food and chasing girls, but nothing left for flying.
The fire was still burning, just not as bright. Finally, my parents and my girlfriend suggested I try to work part-time at the airport in exchange for the occasional lesson. I was pessimistic, but inquired anyway. To my surprise the FBO Owner, Jarrell Crosby, was willing to barter.
I started washing airplanes and doing odd chores on weekends through the day, which fit nicely with my evening job at the movie theatre.
This yielded me one lesson a week – pretty good. I negotiated to have Shawn take half of my hours so he could resume flying too – I had to be a good wingman!
Larry Morriss was our instructor and we used the veritable 152 for all our lessons. My hometown is small so there was only one FBO and they only had one airplane to rent – N757UB. It was a ’78 C-152 and it did a commendable job teaching use the basics. Later I would cut my teeth as a newly minted instructor in that airplane.
Larry was a perfect instructor for a couple of aspiring fighter jocks! He kept us grounded and instilled an appropriate amount of fear and conservativism in us to keep us from being dumber than we already were (read: reckless).
So most of my training happened the summer between my junior and senior year culminating in my private license in December. Since it’s such a small town, this was big news and landed me on the front page of The Duncan Banner circa 1988.
Along the way Shawn and I picked up a couple more like minded friends to share our passion for aviation. Notable was Danny, he spied a flying book under my desk in English and inquired about what that was about. I explained I was a pilot and flew at the local airport. I took him for a ride and he was hooked, and so then we were three.
Shawn, Danny, and I spent every free minute at the airport. We decorated the neglected training room down at the hangar and flew as often as possible.
In the end, we all went to flight school in pursuit of aviation careers, which is the topic for another story, but those memories from that time were amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
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