March 1, 2008
Julie K. Boatman
The first classified ads in The AOPA Pilot appear much like any others, black text on white paper now cream-colored with age. And most advertised a new airplane for sale, or a financing “opportunity”—the standard stuff.
But one ad at the top of “Positions Wanted” caught our attention as we looked through the magazine’s pages. “Interested in a position centered around aviation...college, single, 23, private license.” A name and address followed. A few short lines; a lot of potential.
So what happened? We took a chance and looked through our database to see if the young man, Philip Calder, was still on AOPA’s member roster. With a phone call to a Calder in Florida, we had an answer: Yes. He even retained the same member number. And he was happy to relate the rest of the story.
After acquiring his private certificate at age 19, he went into the U.S. Air Force. Upon leaving the service in his early 20s, aviation was his first choice of occupation. But every door closed to him as he searched for a job as a pilot, with a refrain familiar to would-be professional aviators across the years: “Everyone said I didn’t have enough experience.”
Without the hours to attain a pilot job—but without the pilot job necessary to build up the hours, Calder was at the end of his rope. His last-ditch effort? The classified ad in AOPA’s brand-new magazine.
We’d love to tell you that he found the job of his dreams, but it was not to be. His second choice, however, was real estate, and he spent his career as a real estate broker. Luckily for him, that career bore fruit—enough so that he could realize another aviation dream: to be an aircraft owner.
Over the years, Calder owned a Cessna 140 and 170, a Republic Seabee, and an Enstrom Shark helicopter and along the way he upgraded to a commercial certificate with seaplane and rotorcraft ratings. Still a “sometimes” pilot, Calder retired in 1989 and moved from Connecticut to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area, where he flies whenever he can and restores and collects sports cars.
Patty Wagstaff is a patient teacher, with the skill and experience to get the most out of the Extra 300L—and her student.
Gene Leak is something of a local celebrity to local news outlets eager to cover his 102nd birthday flight.
Sporty’s Pilot Shop founder Hal Shevers said he might never have made aviation his career if not for local flying clubs.
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