PDT Staff Writer
Tyler Stidham, a 15-year-old Wheelersburg High School student, has set a very high goal in life — to become an airplane pilot. What began with visits during the summer to the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport in Minford to eat with his grandfather, John Hawes, has evolved into an admiration and appreciation for flying.
“My grandfather knew a guy that was a pilot, but unfortunately was not able to take me flying with him. My grandpa was not a pilot, but he was interested in aviation. So he took me out there, and we started talking to people, and that’s how I basically got started,” Tyler said.
Although Tyler’s grandfather died in 2007, Tyler has maintained his admiration of aviation, and is now enrolled at Mike Chasteen Aviation Inc., a school of aviation in Portsmouth.
“It takes 40 hours to become a licensed private pilot, and 65 hours is the national average. It takes 15 hours of flight to take the first solo flight, which is what Tyler is currently working on,” said Mike Chasteen, president of Mike Chasteen Aviation Inc.
Stidham said he gets into the air whenever he can.
“I currently have about nine hours in flight in my log book, but that’s not all of the times that I’ve been flying,” said Stidham. “That is off of my flight lessons. I have been flying with my orthodontist before. I also went flying on my 14th birthday. I went out to the airport, my parents got me a flight out there. I just went up flying to see how much I liked it, and I loved it. It was amazing. It’s really neat,” said Stidham.
Tyler said he would like to promote aviation as much as he can.
“It’s really dying in our culture these days. Generally, in aviation there are not that many pilots out there. Actually, the number has decreased a lot,” Stidham said.
“In order to become a private pilot you must be 17, but to solo a plane you have to be 16. And that’s a really big thing that pilots like to do when they’re 16. They want to solo that plane, and that’s what I want to do.”
“Tyler is doing very well so far. He has good motor skills, catches on very quickly, and has a desire to learn. We have an excellent working relationship,” Chasteen said.
Tyler will turn 16 on Aug. 1 and has already reserved a plane to take his official solo flight. There is a lot that I have to work on before then, but I feel ready now,” Stidham said.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 234 or email@example.com.