Young North Georgia Flyer Goes Solo

Sunday, December 23, 2012 - by Kent Whitaker
Cutting the tail
Cutting the tail

Countless numbers of young children have fallen in love with the idea of becoming a pilot. Imagine a child holding a toy plane in their hands while making a “whoosh” sound as they move the tiny aircraft through the air.

Steven Hudson of Rome, Ga., is a 16-year-old student at Rome High School and a cadet in the school’s Air Force ROTC. He is taking his dream of flight and turning it into a reality. "Ever since I had the opportunity to sit in the captain's seat of an L-1011 when I was four years old I’ve been drawn to flying,” he said.

 

If you were in the Rome Georgia area and looked skyward last Wednesday there’s a good chance that you may have seen Steven completing his first solo flight as a student pilot in a Cessna C-172. With the completion of his solo flight Steven Hudson is one step closer to finishing a goal that he set after taking in a day with the locally based Tiger Flight Foundation at the age of 11.

 

According to Steven’s mother, Janice Hudson-Huff, the Tiger Flight visit was a defining moment in Steven’s life after moving from Canada to the Rome area. “When we moved here I wanted to find something like the aviation camps he would attend in Canada,” Ms. Huff said. “While watching the local PBS TV station I saw an interview with some of the guys from Tiger Flight at the Rome airport. I called the airport and they put me in touch with Tom Calvanelli of Tiger Flight and he invited us out for one of their Second Saturday events.”

 

The Tiger Flight Foundation, based at Rome's Richard B. Russell airport, is a non-profit flight-based motivational program for kids that is designed to encourage goal setting and working towards those goals. The foundation also hosts flying events on the second Saturday of every month, offers school tours and even has a paperback book based on the program titled Jake and the Tiger Flight.

 

They also have a growing hanger-based military museum and planes painted in orange and blue tiger strips. It was enough to convince Steven that he wanted to do more than dream about being a pilot. After attending the program and going for a ride in one of the Tiger Flight planes Steven set his goal… and he has worked towards it.

“Tiger Flight is a place where anyone can set a goal and work towards that goal,” Steven Hudson said. “I started volunteering and became a member when I was 11 years old and helping out around the hanger and with events over the years has really helped the process of earning my wings,” he said. “The motivational speech inspires anyone to earn their wings on any goal they set. The years I spent volunteering at Tiger Flight pushed my desire to pursue aviation even further."

 

According to Steven’s mom, the visit to Tiger Flight and her son’s efforts to become a pilot have actually become something that the family enjoys together. “We came out for one of their flying events and Steven became a ‘hangar kid’ like Jake in the Tiger Flight young reader book Jake and the Tiger Flight,” Ms. Huff said. “We came, we saw, we volunteer and we’ve never left!”

 

Steven see’s his goal of becoming a pilot as something that has grown as he has matured. Like every child dreaming of becoming a pilot the “whoosh” sound while holding a toy plane is motivation enough. As a 16-year-old young man in today’s world becoming a pilot and completing a solo flight combines that childhood thrill with something else. "It's a completely different world up there, you see it from a new perspective,” he said. “You feel… free… and separated from the commotion of the world below."

 

Kent Whitaker is a author, culinary writer and sports writer living in Chattanooga. You can follow him on twitter @thekentwhitaker .

At the airport
At the airport

Holiday Cards Needed For Local Troops

The American Red Cross of Tennessee is once again launching its annual Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign. The initiative, led by volunteers, involves the collection of thousands of cards from across the country. These cards are then distributed to local service members, veterans, and their families. The campaign is an effort to encourage people to “Give Something That Means ... (click for more)

Firefighters And Red Cross Volunteers To Install Free Smoke Alarms Saturday

Chattanooga firefighters, along with staff and volunteers with the American Red Cross, will distribute free smoke alarms and batteries on Saturday, in the Washington Hills subdivision. This event will happen, rain or shine. The operation will originate from the parking lot of the Gujarati Samaj of East Tennessee, at 7717 Canyon Drive, off Bonny Oaks. This event will start ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex Fetches $15 Million

Walnut Commons, the first downtown apartment complex built in many years, sold for $15 million, one of the developers said. John Clark said the initial estimate on the project was $11 million and it wound up costing around $12 million to build. "We're very pleased with the sale," he said. Mr. Clark, along with partners David Hudson and Bob McKenzie, are selling their stock ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Principal Ronald Hughes Named Tennessee's 2014-15 Principal Of The Year

A Hamilton County elementary school principal and an Anderson County supervisor have earned top honors for their work in Tennessee education. Ronald Hughes, principal of Apison Elementary School in Chattanooga, was named Tennessee’s 2014-15 Principal of the Year. He has served as principal at Apison Elementary for the past six years, and spent three decades working in Tennessee ... (click for more)

Congratulations To Ron Hughes

Hearty congratulations to Ron Hughes for being selected as Tennessee State Elementary Principal of the Year for 2014. Wherever Ron has been assigned as principal, he has exhibited strong leadership both academically and morally. His faith in God and his love for the students of Hamilton County have guided his actions and everyone that has benefited from the excellent education ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Brittany’s Days Dwindle

So here we are, facing what is known as “Devil’s Night” before Halloween comes, and the almost macabre news now comes that Brittany Maynard, the beautiful girl who has chosen to end her life as soon as Saturday, is struggling to meet her own deadline. She has inoperable brain cancer and, at best, only months to live. The 29-year-old, who was married shortly before her devastating ... (click for more)