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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 took his book knowledge and applied it to the real-world application of the Angel Flight mission. The passengers, Brenda and Kalle, enjoyed getting to know both Kurtis and Colin, and seeing the careful and structured way that Colin worked through every aspect of the flight. 

“He did absolutely great,” said Kurtis of Colin’s time as the pilot. “I showed him a couple of things on the VOR, and he picked right up on it. He was able to practice both his GPS and BOR navigation, and he did a great job on his cross-country flight.” 

Colin has already completed the written portion of the pilot’s license exam and is nearing the time for his first solo cross-country flight. “It was fun looking at the sectionals, practicing my navigation, and tuning in to the different radio stations,” Colin said. “It’s a lot more fun when you’re actually flying, rather than doing it for a test question.”

Colin is known around the McKinney flight community as an eager volunteer who is always willing to help out at air shows and events and is committed to his goals of becoming a pilot and joining the Air Force. Colin will soon be applying to the Air Force Academy. 

Congratulations to Colin on receiving the EAA Ray Aviation Scholarship and best of luck as you apply to the Air Force Academy! 

Kurtis, Colin, Brenda, and Kalle are pictured in the plane during their mission. Colin is wearing a Zulu 3 headset that was given to Colin by the Lightspeed Foundation. 


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