With the pandemic sweeping our nation and our world, we wanted to turn our attention to the thing that brings us all here to begin with, our community and our airplanes.
You’ll notice that very little of our issue covers the effects of the coronavirus on aviation, though that remains overwhelmingly the biggest story in the world and in our little aviation niche, too.
When we announced last month that we would be putting together special features dedicated in part to the strength of the people like you and me who fly small planes, the response was enormous. The idea, which resonated strongly with our readers, was not so much to document the effects of the novel coronavirus but to highlight the resilience of the people who fly small planes in the face of that virus. So we wanted to share with you the faces, the stories and the strength (and, okay, the planes) of our readers. We think that you will find them as moving and inspirational as we have. (SCROLL DOWN TO MEET OUR READERS AND READ THEIR STORIES)
Paul Kochâs wife, Raye, gave him a discovery flight and the encouragement to pursue his flying dream for his 50th birthday. Since then, heâs been an avid pilot.
His Plane: Diamond DA-40NG with a partner
Ratings: Private Pilot, Instrument rated
Favorite Plane: The DA-40NG
Home Airport: KADS, Addison, Texas
Favorite Destination: âMy next one!Â My wife and I enjoyed our trip last summer to Cedarville on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit some longtime friends at their summer home.â
His Story: âI always wanted to be a pilot, just never had the time to pursue it.Â I was worried that I was getting too old, but my uncle Herb Sloane showed me through his example that you can fly airplanes well into your 90s!Â (Uncle Herb was a former B-17 pilot and flew until he was 98 years old.). So when I turned 50, my wife, Raye, gave me a discovery flight (and encouragement) to pursue my dream.Â I earned my PPL certificate in 2006 when I was 50 years old. Former SR-71 Pilot Rich Graham was my instructor. It always amazed me to think that heâd flown at Mach 3+ near the edge of space and was happy teaching me basic stick-and-rudder in a 1975 Cessna 150.â
Flying In Pandemic Times: âWeâve suspended our Thursday hangar flying meeting.Â So far, it hasnât yet affected my actual flying.Â If things get more restrictive, I have a home simulator that I use to fly practice approaches ahead of flying to a new airport.â