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A First Flight

Thirty years after making the decision not to become a pilot for the Air Force (he became an engineer and ended up retiring from the Air Force), Kurtis Sampson received his pilot certificate to do cross country flying. He needed a purpose for his flights, so he signed up to be an Angel Flight pilot. When he signed up for his first mission, he had 249.9 hours (the requirement to be an Angel Flight pilot is 250), so he took an instructor with him on the flight to get that last .1 hours that he needed to fly solo. He’s been flying volunteer missions since 2010. 

Kurtis is the vice president of his local EAA chapter, a flight instructor for Texins Flying Club, and an Angel Flight volunteer pilot, with memberships in several other volunteer aviation groups.

When Colin, a Young Eagle student pilot from his EAA chapter, was awarded the Ray Aviation Scholarship, Kurtis invited him on an Angel Flight mission. Kurtis thought it would be a great opportunity for the young pilot to get some training time in as the co-pilot on an Angel Flight mission.

Colin is a high school junior and a member of the wrestling team in McKinney, Texas. He has also been a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol since he was 12 years old and is eagerly awaiting his 17th birthday next year when he can earn his pilot’s license.

As a Young Eagle student pilot, Colin was recently awarded a $10,000 scholarship to help with his flight training expenses. The Young Eagle program supports young people interested in aviation careers. The program provides resources to increase the pilot graduation rate because only 20% of students who start out on the aviation path actually graduate.

The morning of the Angel Flight mission was calm and clear – the perfect day for flying. Colin was excited about meeting the passengers and practicing his skills in real-world scenarios as he flew his first cross-country flight on the non-passenger legs of the mission. 

Planning for and flying missions is something that experienced pilots often do intuitively. Colin was methodical as he