I recently had the privilege of flying my first cross-country in the Stearman. We flew it to “the Great Lakes International Airshow”

For those of you who don’t know, Dennis is my mentor and instructor.

His personal airplane is a 1942 Boeing Stearman that he restored himself over a period of 3 years.

Dennis made it extra challenging for me by requiring me to do the outbound trip with nothing but paper charts (remember this is an open cockpit plane :).

And he put me in the front cockpit which has zero navigation instruments.  The back cockpit at least has a compass – but he wanted to see me do it with nothing but good old pilotage.  It went well and I earned the right to use my iPad with ForeFlight for the return trip.


While we were hanging out at the show I asked Dennis some questions which made for an interesting interview, so we were inspired to share:

When did you decide to get into instructing?

I pursued instructing first because my dreams of airline flying were crushed, then because I honestly wanted to help people enjoy this amazing activity. This was further cemented by the tragic death of two friends of mine that I believed was caused by inadequate instruction.

Who has been a mentor to you and why?

Everyone I meet in aviation that has more experience and /or insight into flying is a mentor.

What was a pivotal moment for you in your career?

I haven’t really had one big one yet. But often, I am given the keys and the trust to fly other people’s treasures which I am very honoured and grateful for. The most exciting day was the first flight of the Stearman.

What is a goal that you’re working toward now?

My next goal is a checkout in the TBM 900 as an acquaintance just bought one and wants me to join him on training.

Looking back, what do you wish you knew early on?

I don’t look back – there’s nothing to see.

What’s one piece of advice that has served you well?

Always ask yourself, What’s the worst that can happen?…

Can you tell the FlightChops Community about a time you screwed up so that others can learn from your mistake?

In thirty years, 8000 hours in fifty different types?…You screw up a lot and I’ve learned from every one. Making mistakes is human nature but at least don’t make the same mistake twice. And learn from others, it’s a lot cheaper and safer.

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