We are very pleased to announce we have enough funding for the scholarship to cover the FULL COST of a PRIVATE PILOT CERTIFICATE!!
Road to Wings
By Jason Tabor
I grew up around general aviation as I spent time with my grandfather. He was a private pilot and owned a small single-engine aircraft that he kept in Loris, SC. The airport was a one runway rural airport with only a few aircraft parked on the ramp. I learned to ride my bicycle and spent many days hanging out at the airport looking forward to the next airplane ride. I’ll always remember him telling me to keep an eye out for other aircraft, and that I was part of the crew sitting in the co-pilot seat, even as a child. I remember dreaming that I could be the pilot someday.
During high school, I continued to have an interest in aviation and wanted to be a pilot like my grandfather. I found a private pilot ground school class at Midlands Technical College, but I was not old enough to attend. Therefore, my father enrolled in the class and took me with him where I was able to complete my written test for private pilot. I had charts plastered on my bedroom wall in high school and I wanted to learn everything! The more I learned the more I had a hunger to know more.
To pay for the lessons I worked as an airplane washer at our local airport. I would go straight from high school to work and would clean the aircraft as they came out of the hangar. I continued to work at any position that they would allow me to do, including driving a tug, forklift, truck, cleaning, and loading cargo using my salary for flight lessons. I continued to complete all of my certificates and the same boss I had as an airplane washer offered me a job flying a corporate jet out of Boston. This was my big break! I have loved every minute of flying since my first flight. Currently, I enjoy helping others fulfill their dreams and full potential through various mentorship programs. I had the opportunity to be a Captain on the Boeing 737 and have flown many other aircraft with many great professionals around the world. I still believe that a pilot has the best office in the world.
I had the opportunity to fly many movie stars and celebrities. I also had the chance to meet Buzz Aldrin and fly Neil Armstrong, two of the Apollo 11 astronauts that walked on the moon. When times were difficult, I was still rewarded with incredible opportunities and circumstances that most people would not have the chance to experience. That is why I always focus on the positive and never give up.
Whether you chose to fly for fun or to be a Captain of an airliner, you have a unique set of skills and are part of an exclusive club that will always challenge you to be better. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and continue to focus on your passion. Understand that there will be setbacks but continue to be focused and goal oriented and I am confident that when you reach your goal it will have all been worth it.
Every time I push the thrust levers forward on takeoff it brings me back to the moment with my Grandfather on my very first flights in rural South Carolina. The incredible feeling of flying an aircraft is unique and rewarding. Through hard work and determination, and a passion for flying, a pilot is truly the best job you could ever imagine. The Lyons foundation is an incredible opportunity to get your foot in the door into an exciting and rewarding career. Giving back to the profession and helping others along the way is a cornerstone of what aviation is all about.
Road to Wings
By Adam Wasser
My flying story is similar to many pilots who say they always wanted to fly. I have pictures of me holding toy airplanes at an age too young for me to remember. I do remember doing “cross countries” across my backyard with a little die cast Cessna 310 in my hand. At some point my Dad pointed out the obvious advantages of having the military pay for flight training and that became my goal. I worked very hard to position myself for one of the military academies. Preferably the Air Force Academy with their higher percentage of graduates becoming pilots. In January of my junior year of High School while in the application process for the academies, I crashed an ultralight causing serious injuries. The Doctors informed my parents I would require surgery to install steel rods along my vertebrate. If the surgery was successful I would have about a ten percent chance of walking again. Eighteen months of various braces and therapy followed. I am grateful to so many for my recovery and that amazing life experience. I will never forget that while recovering and dealing with the reality that any dreams I had of a military career were over, Top Gun the movie, was released. I loved the film but it was painful to watch knowing that would never be me. At seventeen years old I assumed flying was not possible for me and tried to pursue other avenues. I couldn’t stay away from airshows. The flying bug could not be healed. I learned that I could use financial aid available for college and apply it to my flying courses. Becoming a civilian pilot was still possible. It was a slow process but I enjoyed every step. There were few jobs with many airline pilots furloughed at the time. (Not unlike now!) It did not make sense to spend money on lessons with no jobs waiting in the distance. But I enjoyed every flight and stubbornly stayed the course. I had many friends give up along the way and that sometimes caused me to doubt my course. I look back now and am quite happy I continued. I meet people everyday with the flying bug inside of them who tell me they wish they would have pursued aviation. I now share the cockpit of a major airliner with examples of all the people I watched at airshows. I fly with people who have flown fighters, freighters, trainers, fire bombers, corporate jets, float planes, bush planes, in combat, in space, and everything in between. I am still that little kid at heart that loves all the planes I have been able to fly. I never realized the highlight of my chosen profession would be the kind of people I get to work with every day. That is why I am such a fan of the Lyons foundation. If you have the desire to fly keep pursuing it and don’t give up. Perhaps the Lyons foundation can help you with one of the barriers to this life. Or perhaps you would like to contribute to help someone else. In either case, welcome to the club.
Road to Wings
By Jeff Peterson
Getting started as a flight student is similar to a good flight plan. You take the best information you have and start moving forward. Threats present themselves and your plan likely gets modified. My road to wings was no different.
I started my flight training during my college years. I had always wanted a degree that was separate from my flying certifications – thinking this would provide a knowledge base beyond the scope of flying in the event flying didn’t work out (medical, furlough, etc). I also thought I was going to have to move a thousand miles away to attend one of the big flight schools in order to advance my aviation career. I traveled to one of these flight schools for a visit. I spent a day on campus collecting as much information as I could soak up. I decided to sign up at this school at the end of my visit. The long drive home from that visitation got me thinking. How was I going to finish my bachelors degree while at this new flight school? The thought lingered for days. I was very unsettled. If only there was a reasonable flight school nearby where I could complete my ratings while finishing my degree at my local university. But would that flight school provide me the opportunities of the big flight school?
The uncomfortable feeling would not stop. I decided to go check out a flight school about 30 miles from my home. The visit to that school was spectacular. While smaller than the big flight school, it was more personable and provided me the opportunity to pursue my ratings while completing my degree. I valued my experience so much that I eventually applied to the school to work as a Certified Flight Instructor once I was qualified. In the end, this school provided me every opportunity as the big flight school.
As you embark on this endeavor, I encourage you to chart out a plan with the best information you have. I also encourage you to prepare for detours and deviations from that plan. They will happen and it’s a very normal part of this process. With a solid goal in mind and flexibility in your heart, your wings are within reach too!
Road to Wings
By Bill Fletcher
I’ve always thought flying was cool. I loved airplanes. Never thought about being a pilot until I flew on my very first airplane ride. Our family got orders to Hawaii and I flew for the very first time. I’ll never forget the takeoff sensation of getting pushed back in the seat. At 6 six years old, that’s when I knew I always wanted to be a pilot.
As time marched on I kind of left it as a childhood dream because I had neither the means nor the know how to become a pilot.
That all changed when I was a junior in high school. I was walking to class and saw a brochure stand next to the guidance counselor’s office that had brochures about the Air Force. I’ll never forget the picture of a fighter pilot wearing his helmet and how cool it looked. I went home and told my dad that I wanted to be an Air Force Pilot. He didn’t know how to counsel me because he didn’t know how to go through the process. So he kindly told me to not pin all my hopes of being a pilot in the Air Force because it was just too competitive. Of course being a rebellious teenager, I set out to prove my dad wrong. My desire was stronger than ever. But I still didn’t have the know how. Logically my next move was to call a recruiter. His priorities were to fill other positions. Not pilots. So after he chuckled on the phone, he abruptly told me to go to college. Get a degree. Then call me. And he literally hung up on me. Again, another huge motivator to prove I can do this.
Fast forward to my senior year, my dad offered a choice for a graduation gift. Either pay off my car. Or pay for a private pilot license. Obvious choice for me.
I immediately took lessons and was eager to learn. After a while, I was now a private pilot!
Still wanting to carry it further, I enrolled in Air Force ROTC at the University of Tennessee. Everyone in ROTC wanted to be a pilot. So I worked extra hard. Did the best I could. Went above and beyond. And as it turned out, having a private license was an edge I had on the competition. And lo and behold, I received a training slot to attend Air Force pilot training! My dreams came true!
I am a classic case of “if I can do it, anyone can”!!
My advice is to work hard. Go above and beyond. Do something to stand out. And your dreams can come true.
Oh. And I proved my dad wrong! I made it.
Road to Wings
By Mark Lyons
As a child, I grew up in and around the Air Force. My Father was in the Air Force. I was exposed to Air Force bases and planes at an early age. I was also exposed to travel as my dad’s assignments took me to foreign countries, sometimes for years. My middle and high school days were in one place, California. After my dad retired from the Air force, we didn’t move again.
During High School, I watched my brother pursue aviation, really not knowing what he was doing, other than that he would disappear to go fly. I think he obtained his private pilot’s license slightly after his 17th birthday. He was also very driven to pursue a career in aviation, seeking a nomination and then receiving an appointment to the Air Force Academy.
Indirectly his passion for flight influenced me. Although I did not seek out flying lessons in high school, I followed in his footsteps, which was also following in my father’s footsteps, and I sought a nomination and then received an appointment to the Air Force Academy.
I certainly enjoyed being around aviation while at the Air Force Academy, traveling, studying and learning about aviation. I was medically qualified to fly, hence I was given a slot to pilot training. That started the last leg of my Road to Wings.
My road to wings certainly wasn’t easy, I can honestly say I had some challenges to overcome with some parts of the training. In the end I was successful, and it opened up a world of possibilities for me, and sent me on a career path unlike any other. I think over time I have become more passionate about flying. It certainly didn’t start at a young age, like my brother. I knew I enjoyed being around aviation, but when young it wasn’t a passion. As I have gained more and more experience, the passion grew and I knew there was nothing else in the world I wanted or ever would want to do. I feel blessed because of the opportunity I had. Hard work in high school certainly contributed to me receiving an appointment to the Academy, and sent me on the path to becoming a pilot. Although at that time I did not know that. I think because of the challenges obtaining my military pilot rating, I’m very empathetic to what it takes. Some roads aren’t easy and achieving those goals make the achievement so much sweeter.
Every pair of wings has a story, and it’s a story that is near and dear to everyone’s heart. The experiences I’ve had as a pilot, from teaching somebody how to fly, to watching them succeed and then flourish and then later help mentor them has been rewarding beyond expectations.
I’m passionate about this foundation, I’m highly motivated to give back and to help a young person as they reach for their goals. Hopefully the foundation will be able to set the scholarship recipient on a path that will make a difference to them. And in their life.
//Mark Lyons// President/Executive Director The Lyons Aviation Foundation
Whatever your goals may be, reaching them can hardly ever be done alone. Reaching your goals require:
A life style of dependence
We know what the goal of becoming a pilot entails. We’ve been there. And we didn’t acheive our goals alone. Here at The Lyons Aviation Foundation, we stand ready to help. This foundation is born out of our sense to give back. It’s created through the loving and caring nature instilled in our family by our parents. It’s created to help give opportunity to those that might not otherwise have the means to pursue aviation as a career path. And to help you reach your goal.
Together we can make a difference in someones life. We hope you will support our efforts to provide opportunity to a person passionate about flying by donating. Together we can make a difference.
Captain A. G. Lamplugh, a British pilot from the early days of aviation once famously said “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”