, North Carolina

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-23 17:23:50
“As a teenager in the year2000, life was rough. And not the typical teenage existential angstkind. You see, my mom had a run of bad luck being a single mother of 4 boys and we landed in a very rough public housing development for a time. It wasn’t the most productive place for 4 young impressionable boys. It was actually pretty rough. Being biracial I was always told I was “too white to hang out with the black kids” in the neighborhood, and when I was at school I was “too black for the white kids” to hang out with me. So at home I was bullied by the neighborhood kids to the point that I was plunged into a very dark place. And because of where I lived crime was a way of life. I could spot a drug deal from my dining room window during dinner most nights of the week. I survived no less than three drive-by shootings in our first year living there. I can’t tell you the number of times I’d had guns or knives pulled on me and been threatened with them. I was never any good at math, I was mediocre at science, and my grades reflected that. I had a teacher in an applied sciences class that loved model rockets and airplanes. He would fly his planes out over the school rec fields when he didn’t have a class and I would watch out the window during the classes I couldn’t pay attention in. I asked him about his planes one day and he offered to show them to me. I would spend hours after school with him learning to fly, and sometimes repair, them. This helped keep me out of trouble in more than a few ways. When he learned about how bad my grades were and the ever deepening spiral of depression I was headed down, he offered to tutor me during our flight sessions. It became a daily ritual: I would get out of class for the day and head for the rec fields.He would be there with either a plane, a model rockets, or building materials. Oh, and a small whiteboard. It didn’t take long for me to start understanding how simply complicated aeronautical mechanics were. I didn’t understand geometry, but after a while I could tell you why triangles were the strongest shape. I couldn’t tell you about mitosis, but I could explain how airspeed velocity affected lift. It didn’t take long for him to understand what made me tick and how to wrap some aspect of flight into it. My grades improved over the year, and the teachers that said I would never pass were left with dusty mouths when I passed that year with Cs, The following year I passed with Bs, and they were awestruck when I passed my third year with As. You can’t even begin to imagine the confidence boost that gave me. That confidence pulled me from the brink of suicide and not making it to my second year of High school. That confidence helped me make friends at school despite adversity and gave me a new purpose in life. Mr. Phillips passes away just after my senior year, but he was front row at my graduation. I say all this to say that had it not been for seeing Mr. Phillips flying his plane around outside I would not be here today. Fast forward sixteen years and I fly with my oldest son who just turned 13. He’s a lot like I was. He can’t tell you the structure of a sentence, but he can tell you about the structure of an airplane wing. The sentence structure is coming along, but it would be a lot more difficult if I could not go out into my backyard with him and fly. The nearest flying club is 45 minutes from my house and they only allow 15 minute windows of flight time three days a week. That’s no where near enough time to fly, teach, and then fly some more. I live on a couple of acres of land and my neighbors don’t mind me using theirs. In total I have close to 30 acres to fly on and I’m at least 15 miles from the nearest airport. We’ve been to local parks to fly micro and super micro planes and quads, but it’s not the same. Crash a quad at the park and you go home. Crash a plane at the house and you’re back in the sky in 20-30 minutes. Flying has become a way of life for us. My youngest three kids aren’t that much into it, but I hope that through some kind of compromise on these impending rules that allow us to continue flying freely that they’ll warm up to it eventually.”