Take flight at local airport

New flight school open

By Allen Earl - aearl@civitasmedia.com

Want to learn to fly? Officials at the local New Tazewell Municipal Airport 3A2 recently announced that Alan Birdsall has opened a new service for individuals who want to learn the art and skill of flying.

Birdsall was born in Iowa and has been a pilot for 30 years in the cockpits of both military and civilian aircraft. He learned civilian flight instruction in college and later became a military flight instructor in the United States Air Force. Adding to his experience, he also has 22 years as a Federal Aviation Administration traffic controller. As an Air Force instructor, he taught the principles of supersonic flight, aerobatics and close formation flight.

Birdsall said, “I’m officially retired now and was looking for something to do and found the people in this airport and community to be very inviting. Both my wife and I fell in love with this country because of it’s beauty. Instead of sitting at home I chose to do this.”

The flight instruction school is open to students starting at the age of 16 but he or she can not solo until they reach 17. The cost of the school is $30 per hour plus aircraft rental of $100 to basically cover some of the fuel cost.

The school is completed in two stages with the first being nine hours of ground school covering a few weeks’ time. The second stage features more ground school plus the added fun of actual flight training. Total hours usually average around 15-20, he said. After completion of these two stages, the student will embark on their first solo flight. All books will be provided. Currently Birdsall has around 12 students with his first student, Thomas Neely, just completing his solo July 6.

After a pilot’s first solo flight, the instructor will cut the tail off the students shirt, an old-time tradition that dates back to the initial days of flight where the instructor would tug on the students shirt tail to imply flight instructions. Neely’s shirt tail is currently displayed on the board at the airport.

Birdsall, his father Kenneth and uncle Dale all flew military aircraft and passed down the love of flight throughout generations. When asked to describe flight in one sentence Birdsall said, “Flying is a peacefulness than cannot be found anywhere else.”

To contact Birdsall about learning to fly call 816-560-9629. The address to the New Tazewell Municipal Airport is 380 Airport Lane, Tazewell.

Not sure if you want to fly? The school also offers discovery flights and sightseeing flights for only $79 per 30 minute flight. Gift certificates are also offered.

Reach Allen Earl at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @pitchadude.


New flight school open

By Allen Earl


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