Ryan

Pollard

, Hillsborough

, North Carolina

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-14 16:14:05
“For as long as I could remember I have been fascinated with aviation. My favorite toys were of airplanes or spaceships and I had encyclopedias on the world’s aircraft. For my senior design project in high school I designed a basic fighter jet that I presented using AutoCAD sketches and a foam model. I loved aviation so much I joined the US Air Force right after high school and became an aircraft mechanic on various models of C-130. I separated from the military after 10 years and moved to North Carolina with my wife. I started working at a leading semiconductor manufacturer because I couldn’t find work as an aircraft mechanic. This job was very interesting and intellectually fulfilling but I couldn’t help feeling a little depressed that I wasn’t actively involved in the aviation world. So I continued looking for aircraft mechanic jobs. Eventually, a prominent aircraft manufacturer in Greensboro offered me a golden opportunity as an aircraft mechanic in a research and development environment, I gladly accepted. Unfortunately, less than a week after accepting their offer, my wife and I were in a traumatic automobile accident that left me many serious injuries. I was told that I would most likely be unable to work in a job with the physical demands that I was accustomed to with aircraft maintenance. I had to forfeit the dream job I had just been offered and reconsider my future. This is where my journey with model aviation comes in. After being discharged from the hospital I had a lot of time on my hands. I was placed on short-term disability and had a lot of time to sit around and heal. I was restricted to mostly sedentary activity. I eventually renewed my interest in the RC aviation with the help of YouTube. My life took another turn after coming across a channel called Flite Test. They made the hobby seem more approachable and affordable as ever. I couldn’t get enough of their content and with all the free time I had, I started taking notes about everything I could learn about this hobby. When I was healthy enough, I started building planes from their tutorials. Unfortunately, I still had to work on my piloting skills because none of the planes I built in the first 5-6 months survived their first take off. It didn’t matter, I loved building them more than anything and I was in this hobby for life. My story doesn’t end there however, I was still trying to figure out what to do with my life when I was able to return to work. Unfortunately, my doctors were telling me that I would have a very long recovery. I ended up being on disability for over two years. It would have been longer if I hadn’t reached the limits of my policy. Needless to say, I knew I had to use my GI Bill and return to school. If I learned anything from this hobby, it was that I loved building/designing things that can fly more than actually flying them. So I decided to pursue a bachelor of science in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University. As I sit here writing this, I have recently graduated and am finally entering a new, and exciting chapter in my life. My wife gets most of the credit of being a positive influence in my decision to choose a career in Aerospace Engineering, but Flite Test, and the model aviation hobby, get the rest.”
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