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Young Pilot Fires Up Crowd With Special Flyover

 

Jack Lindsay
Young pilot Jack Lindsay, center, Pat Conroy (left), and flight instructor Gary Lewis flew the three-ship formation for Hudsonville High School's homecoming.

October 16, 2013 - Jack Lindsay, 18, a senior at Hudsonville High School, Michigan, helped pump up his fellow students at the school's homecoming last week when he and two other pilots did a ceremonial flyby before its Friday night football game against Grand Haven. It was Jack's idea to do something special after becoming a certificated private pilot in late August.

"I'm one of the super fans," he explained, describing students who dress up crazy and lead cheers for the home team Eagles. Jack, EAA 1093155, has also been fanatical about aviation as long as he can remember.

He was first drawn to aviation when his family would fly to vacation destinations. To him, flying was the most fun part of the trip, and he came to love airports.

Sensing Jack's fancy for flight, his family began attending local air shows in Traverse City and Kalamazoo. Then, when Jack was 13 (summer 2009), his mother, Gayle, enrolled him in the Aviation Explorers Post M22 through Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. A few weeks into the program that group attended a fly-in in nearby Interlochen where they helped out as ground volunteers at a Young Eagles rally.

"When the fly-in was done, the pilots said, 'Okay boys, now it's your turn,'" recalled Jack's mother, Gayle. The ensuing flights sealed the deal for Jack.

"I'll never forget the excitement in his voice as he told me how he actually flew the plane (a biplane) for 10 minutes!" Gayle said. "It was definitely Young Eagles that got the ball rolling for him."

The group attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh the following two summers (Jack has attended Oshkosh every year since), and by the time he was 15, his mother enrolled him in his first flight lessons at Blue Sun Air at Ottawa Executive Airport (Z98). He started out in a Cessna 172, but the flight school replaced that with a Grumman Cheetah, which he flew throughout most of his training. His instructor was Gary Lewis, EAA 1120829.

A few days before Jack took his checkride in August, he came up with the idea for the football game flyover. "I had this idea to fly over a high school football game to get the team pumped up and do something that no other high school student I know has ever done," Jack explained. Several weeks of planning included numerous meetings with school officials to make sure everything would be done correctly and safely, in accordance with FAA rules stated in the FAR/AIM.

The flight included three airplanes: the Cheetah flown by Jack, a Grumman Tiger flown by his instructor Gary, and a 1946 Stinson flown by local pilot Pat Conroy. The three pilots also did two run-throughs of the flight before Friday night.

Jack had obtained a ground frequency radio so he could communicate with people on the ground at the field. The flight - actually over the parking lot - was 1,000 feet ASLL (above stadium lights level).

As they approached, the crowd noise told the story. Jack was informed later that his announcement via ground radio of the formation's approach (including good luck wishes to both teams), was mostly inaudible due to the frenzied crowd. They cheered wildly as the three planes passed overhead.

After landing and heading back to the game, he received a lot of back-slapping and kudos from fellow students congratulating him on the awesome flyover. And while he won't claim credit, the Eagles scored a homecoming win over the Grand Haven Buccaneers, 28-17.

Jack is heading for college next fall and plans to study aviation with the goal of becoming a commercial pilot - with the airlines or in the corporate world.

"I'm really excited about that," Jack said.

WZZM-Channel 13 news story about Jack Lindsay's flight

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