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The Miracle of a Dream

by Dan Leonard

feature_flight_1My love affair with flying began when I was watching airplanes fly in and out of Lowry Air Force Base located in Denver, Colorado. Though my father was a Master Navigator there, I never revealed my fascination with flying to him. After graduating from high school, I went to work for United Airlines in the Flight Training Center. I then joined the Air Force during the Vietnam Era, stationed north of Vietnam at a secret airbase. I was part of a team that was involved in rescuing pilots that were shot down.

The idea of flying stayed with me and commercially I flew over 50,000 air miles as a passenger. On one occasion, I flew in a small charter out of Seattle Washington. The pilots in those days did not have the restrictions we see now, and he let me sit up front and asked me to lookout for airplanes in the area as we were close to an airport getting ready to land. What a treat!

feature_flight_2I was now 59 years old. I was driving down Ludwig Road when I saw the sign saying “Learn How to Fly.” I decided to pull my car in and walked in the terminal where a young man in his office asked if I needed help. I told him I am thinking about learning how to fly, to which he said, “Quit thinking and let’s go fly!” I didn’t know what airplane I was in, but I later learned it was the Diamond DA-20. You should have seen me wandering all over the taxiway!

With a few more instructions (and his help!) I was off and the dream came true! We landed and I started lessons the next day. My instructor within a few weeks received a job with a regional airline. I wondered what was going to happen to me, but a new instructor was present in the office. His name was Joel Pierce, and he was the new flight school manager. Joel taught me how to be a pilot, helped me find a plane to buy, and taught me how to be an instrument rated pilot.

Then I started thinking that I could become an instructor and help others learn how to fly. I recently passed and was granted my Basic Ground Instructor Certificate, and I was added to the Sweet Aviation staff as a ground instructor. Since my dream was now complete, it’s now my turn to help others to complete their dreams.

Dan Leonard

Pilot, Ground Instructor, & Detail Manager

With his father being a Master Navigator in the United States Air Force, Dan traveled the world with his family. He joined the United States Air Force and served in Vietnam, receiving the Air Force Commendation Medal. He has always had an interest in flying, and he decided to pursue that dream in 2007. He enrolled as a private pilot student at Smith Field and finished his training under the guidance of Joel Pierce. In 2008, he bought a Cessna 172, in which he completed his instrument rating. After achieving these goals, Dan decided to go ahead and obtain his ground instructor certificate. During his aviation training, he found areas of pilot training that were challenging to learn on his own. Dan’s goal is to train and encourage student pilots through these challenges to help ensure they achieve their dreams of flying.