Formerly a camper, now a flight instructor

By Richard L. Gaw


In the summer of 2016, at the end of an extremely hot afternoon, flight instructor Jimmy Reagan sat in the cockpit of his plane at New Garden Flying Field roasting in the heat.

He had spent the last hours giving the campers private flights and instruction at the annual futureure Airmen Camp, and just when he thought he had taken his last flight of the day, Camp Manager Court Dunn approached him on the track and said: “I ‘I have one more student for you.

That student was Thomas McAdoo, 13, of Wilmington.

“I see it kid walking towards me with a Go-Pro on his head and a camera around his neck, ”Reagan said. “He stretches out his hand and introduces himself to me, and immediately as he gets on boardd, he starts placing cameras all over the plane.

“The best part of this flight was when we took off Thomas let out that laugh and said, ‘This is awesome! “It was such a rewarding time as a flight instructor to be with a youngster who was just thrilled to be flying on an airplane.

When Reagan asked McAdoo if he would be interested in taking over the helm of the plane during the flight, McAdoo immediately made – make steep turns and maneuvers with the ease of a veteran pilot. As the plane began to approach Flying Field, Reagan said what he always says to young campers, but this time he really meant it.

“I told Thomas he really needed to take some flying lessons,” Reagan said.

McAdoo took Reagan’s advice, and over the next five years – mostly under Reagan’s tutelage – he earned his private pilot license, earned his instrument rating, and then a commercial pilot certificate.

This last june, Mcadoo
obtained his license to become a certified flight instructor (CFI) at the age of 18.

Obtaining a CFI license – which requires up to 300 hours of training and instruction – allows the pilot to move from learning to fly to learning to teach.

“When Thomas and I were doing our CFI training, I played from the student and he would stand near a whiteboard, ”said Reagan, who was McAdoo’s primary flight instructor and is also a company pilot. “There Thomas was teaching me the principles of flight, the operation of the airplane and all the ffrom the nuts and bolts of how an airplane is made to regulations, to ensure that it could someday teach a completely new student how to fly and operate an airplane safely.

McAdoo’s rise from camper to pilot is reminiscent of the journeys of many young peoplegsters who frequent the Future Aviators Camp. Dunn, the director Flying Field’s New Garden Flight connection, says that since its inception, the camp has given more than 1,300 initiation flightsson, and for some campers, this signals the beginning of the fulfillment of what he calls “their destinies and their dreams”.

“A highlight for me is when I see our former campers flying F-16s, becoming corporate pilots and pursuing their careers in aviation,” then come back and give to our campers combat instructions, ”Dunn said. “I’ve known Thomas since he was a young camper, and now to see him come back and teach for us and train other campers is a great feeling.”

McAdoo – who attended his first Future Aviators camp at the age of 11 and later became a neck campnselor – recently graduated from the Delaware Military Academy and will be studying chemical engineering at the University of Delaware in the fall. In addition to his college education, he plans to be a part-time instructor for Flying Field’s New Garden. Flight connection, withe possible goal of a career in the
military or as a company pilot.

“My love of flying started here so it’s been great coming back and being able to share it with others is just an amazing experience,” said McAdoo.

To contact Editor-in-Chief Richard L. Gaw, send an email [email protected].

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