If there is a “normal” way to become a pilot, Bill didn’t follow it. He took a different path. His journey started in 2004 when he and a friend took a 10 day hiking trip to Alaska. While there he took a sightseeing tour in a 1961 Otter. They flew around the peak of Denali and he remembered looking out the window as the pilot did a wing over and said they were 1 mile above the glacier.
At the end of their vacation they tried to climb a peak but got rained out. Bill told his friend how much he liked the sightseeing tour and they should see if they could take another one. At the airport in Seward they found one that took them over the Kenai Fjord, and the Harding Ice Field, down through the Exit Glacier and back to Seward in a 172. He was so enamored with the view and what he got to see from the air, that when he landed he asked the pilot how one learned to fly. The pilot said he needed to find a flight instructor. By happenstance the pilot was not only an instructor, but lived in Westminster, Colorado and flew out of Metro, which was Jeffco back then.
Bill was like, “Whoa! I’m from Thornton!” He decided right there and then he was going to take flying lessons. When he got home he signed up with Journeys Aviation and began flying a Diamond Katana, a 2 seater low wing, but being a single parent he ran out of time and money before he got his license. In addition to that he didn’t like to study so when it came time to do his check ride he wasn’t ready for the oral part.
While online one day he ran across Ultralights and discovered there was an instructor at Front Range airport. Bill tried them out and fell in love with them.
About the same time the Sport Pilot Rule was getting stronger, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. He realized he might not be able to get a 3rd class medical and his ability to get a private license hinged on that. He decided to go for his Sport Pilot Certificate. He even bought some weight shifts but, once again his lack of study habits proved his down fall.
By now he was married and had moved to Fort Collins. He also decided to get serious and get his sport pilot certificate but he would have to do it in an airplane because Loveland doesn’t have weight shift. He had a few different instructors before he met Art Hoag who encouraged him to study.
So in 2013 he got his sport pilot certificate in the Remos.
The FAA was relaxing some of the medical standards so that all you had to do was prove you were under a Dr.’s care. Enter the catch 22. If you go for a 3rd class medical and get denied, you can never fly again, but to be a sport pilot all you needed was a driver’s license. Still he sent his medical in and they didn’t deny it, but they didn’t approve it either. They wanted proof he was under a Dr.’s care. Four months and a $2,000 sleep study later he got his medical.
In June of 2014, almost 10 years exactly to the day, he got his private license.
Now he intends to get his Sport Pilot CFI. He is also looking at starting a flying club. He’s not sure how much interest there is but he’s going forward with an informational meeting in a couple of weeks.
He loves promoting aviation and would love to get into the STEM + A network. After his solo he had an epiphany. If he can land a plane, he can do anything. The sense of empowerment he felt at that realization is what he would like to communicate to young people. He would love to take a weight shift to schools and show it to the kids.
“When you think of flying, you think of general aviation aircraft or big jets.” He states. “People don’t realize there is a whole group called ultralights which will let you fly cheaper and safer while building your hours. By putting young adults into a cockpit he’s hoping they can see for themselves that they can be bigger than anything they thought of.”