My first flying lesson was out of the Hendersonville, NC (0A7) airport in April 2000. I was thrilled and awe-struck. However, it took me a while to make up my mind about taking regular flying lessons. Juggling work (as a Professor of Computer Information Systems at Western Carolina University), the commute between the airport and my home, and finances, etc., it was not until September of 2003 that I started taking flying lessons at the Macon County Airport (1A5). I did my first solo on December 4, 2004 and I still remember my instructor, Marc Bryson, cutting off the back of my t-shirt, signing it and giving it to me. Framed, it still hangs in my study.
I earned my Private Pilot’s License on August 3, 2005. During this time an opportunity of partnering with two other airport buddies, Jimmy, a private pilot and John, a soon-to-be pilot, to purchase a Cessna 182 (N2359X) came up. We formed a corporation and purchased the airplane. Jimmy took care of accounting and maintenance, and frequently advised me on flying related issues. Eventually John took his written test for private pilot, scored a perfect 100/100, and finally got his license.
Joining the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about flying from the senior members of the Asheville CAP squadron. A fellow CAP member and I even flew N2359X to Freeport in the Bahamas. It was quite an experience flying over the waters of the Atlantic, and crossing the ADIZ.
A year or so after the flight to the Bahamas, I visited Key West, FL where I saw a column that said, “Southernmost Point of the United States,” and thought why not visit the northernmost point of the USA which happens to be Barrow, Alaska. So, in the summer of 2009 with my friend Tom Stovall I set out for Barrow, Alaska. It was, again, quite an experience. After 80 hours of VFR flying we returned safely back to my home airport -1A5.
The flight to Barrow aroused a desire in me to fly round the world in a Cessna 182. I began to research and found out that if I flew the North Atlantic Route, I could do it. It would only take a little over twice the time it took me to fly to Barrow and back.
Things happened. John passed away, and Jimmy was no longer interested in co-owning the aircraft. So, we decided to sell N2359X. We found a buyer, and with a heavy heart said good bye to N2359X.
I started looking for another airplane. Eventually, my friend, Mitch Smith, told me that one of his friends was selling a Cessna 182. Mitch even offered me $500 towards the cost of the airplane. After some serious soul searching and number crunching I decided to buy the airplane. Mitch and I flew in his RV6 to DeFord, IL., sealed the deal and I flew N42667 (Sarah II) to her new home – 1A5.
But all this was not to be. On the 10th of March, while on take off roll at Waycross, GA (KAYS), I drifted and ended up rolling over the adjacent grassy ground. When I stopped, the nose wheel dug into the soft dirt and the airplane flipped over. By God’s grace, neither my passenger nor I was hurt. However, my insurance declared the airplane as total loss, and so, after the dust settled I had to look for a similar airplane. I found a similar Cessna 182 in Tucson, AZ. So, I flew over there to bring N58635 (I named her Rebecca) to her new home at 1A5 in Franklin, NC. She is now getting few touch ups and upgrades to be ready for her adventure in May 2016. As of 4/24/2016 she has a certified panel mounted GPS (Garmin GTN 650). She also is getting a new Engine Analyzer (EDM 900). These two additions will help me greatly with navigation and fuel management.
I am waiting for launch time – morning of Sunday, May 15th (now pushed back to Saturday, May 21).
Update: Be sure to check out the “Blog” page on the menu above to read the latest updates on my journey!