Lloyd Simpson, along with two of his closest friends, have recently earned their pilots licenses and are currently spending as much time as possible flying as well as providing sightseeing flights for many friends and area residents.
Simpson, along with Ronnie Williams and Julie Atkins, say it is a dream come true for them and that they enjoy flying whenever they can get the opportunity.
The three acquired their ground school training at the Tucker-Guthrie Airport under the instruction of Joe Goodman and then followed up with their flight hours at other airports as well as taking the written tests in other areas.
Simpson said that while he traveled to Island Airport in Knoxville to take his written test, Williams noted that he took the test in Somerset with a private designated examiner.
“It is something that I had always wanted to do —to get my license — since I was a young boy, but due to it being so expensive and all, I had to wait until the time was right to make that dream come true,” said Simpson, who received his license last month. “My wife and I finally got the kids through college, and I saw a way financially to be able to do it. So I did, and I am enjoying every minute of it.”
Williams, who received his license in September 2007, said flying was something he had always wanted to do and that he received a lot of encouragement from his friend, Jerry Asher, who was mainly responsible for getting him interested in flying. He also noted that he plans to expand his flight training to even bigger heights by eventually earning his commercial flight license.
The two men, as well as Atkins, are currently considered private pilots and cannot charge a fee for their services. To be able to do that, they will have to complete the designated commercial flight training.
“As private pilots, we are not able to charge anyone for a flight, but we are allowed to take people up in the plane,” said Williams. “The way we usually do it is that we can have the person we are flying to pay for part of the fuel or help out with the rental fee of a plane, since we neither one own our own planes. What we usually do is just sightseeing flights for anyone who wants to go up for a little while.”
While both men have thus far completed the required 20 hours ground school and the 40 hours flight time and have both received their license through a designated examiner, they said they plan to also acquire their instrument license, which will allow them to fly under an instrument plan instead having to fly at designated intervals through the visual flight plan.
Simpson also noted he had received a lot of encouragement from Atkins, who had also taken the flight training at the same time.
“Julie has been a big inspiration for me, and I hope I have been for her as well,” said Simpson.