Teen aviator Brock Newsom holds the singular honor flying solo on four different planes at the Mount Airy Airport on his 16th birthday, hours before he earned his driver’s license.
According to his mother, Lori, the two figured out that morning on the way to the airport he was going to fly solo before he drove by himself to earn his license later that day.
“Adjusting from plane to plane each time was a challenge I wanted to try. It’s really something when you get up there (in a plane) and look out. Right there is the whole world,” said Newsom. “I started with Radio Controlled (RC) planes. I guess I started to learn by building and rebuilding them and that taught me about weather factors. We were near an airport and one day I walked over there, watched and I called my dad and told him I’d like to hang around a bit.”
Newsom credits the support of pilots and their families and instructor Ed Holland with his success. He said word of mouth about the facility convinced the sophomore that Mount Airy was the place to come to learn. The deal was sealed for him when local pilots Chris Gammons and Aaron Gaddy took him up. He said plans on seeking his pilot’s license when he is 17. The elder Newsom was also inspired and now has his pilot’s license.
“It’s a whole new experience and one you’ll never forget,” said Brock Newsom. “They (the planes) were similar in some ways but different, too. They react to everything and you have to learn that.” He said there were no other pilots in his family until his dad got his license. He said he has flown two-seat aircraft as well as four-seat craft and has worked his way up to a Cessna Model 188.
Newsom said practice made the solo flights that morning routine for him as he fell into familiar habits learned in training. He said the four planes were lined up on the runway and, one by one he would go through pre-flight checks, fly three laps before landing and move to the next plane.
He said he got up at 7 a.m. that day with the toughest first task being having to stay at school for three hours, so he wouldn’t lose credit for the entire day, before heading for the airport.
“The hardest thing about it was to stop flying that day,” Newsom said. “I had to go back to school the next day and all I wanted to do was just keep going.” The Reagan High student said he plans on pursuing a career related to aviation through college and praised the sense of camaraderie at the local airport.
“This (airport) is a great community,” Newsom said. “In general aviators are all one community and we have respect for one another. I’d taken on challenges before and this is one of those things were you say man, this is cool and you’re hooked. With all the emphasis on training it’s really safe with all the procedures.”
He admitted when he first made his goal known about half of he friends sided with him and the other half thought he was crazy. Flying has also given him new respect for mother nature.
“I have gained a new respect for weather,” said Newsom. “How to accommodate in spite of it and how to go with it. How to enjoy it. I’m always looking at the sky now. The equipment on board also helps. I even go to a car and scan it. It’s a process and you just get used to it.” He said the weather on the day he soloed was warm with sunshine.
Newsom said flying has taught him the value of knowing geography, staying clam and thinking clearly. He said the lights of cities become whole new landmarks and described on some flights how pilots can see the lights curve as you go over some types of mountains.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.