December 1, 2011
“Every little boy goes through a phase where he likes trucks, dinosaurs, airplanes, and then trains. My airplane phase has been running strong for about 22 years.”
Greg Morris, owner and chief pilot at Gauntlet Warbirds in Sugar Grove, Illinois, knew early in life he wanted to be a pilot. His career progression in aviation wasn’t always so straightforward. While most career pilots are focused on going higher, farther, faster, or bigger, Morris found that aviation wasn’t what he thought it would be. What he missed was a challenge or, as he called it, a mission objective.
His first aerobatic flight provided Morris with that mission objective and helped put everything into perspective. “After my first aerobatic flight I realized I would never do it perfectly—and I loved that,” he said. That flight experience—and the lifelong mission to practice and perfect the skills that it presented—put his career in motion.
He honed his aerobatic skills and competed at an advanced level. In 2005, he was designated a Master CFI-Aerobatic by the National Association of Flight Instructors and the International Aerobatics Club.
In 2006, a new owner of a T–6 Texan looked to Morris to help him transition to this more advanced aircraft. Morris took advantage of the opportunity and co-founded Gauntlet Warbirds with that single T–6 Texan.
Since then, his goal coming to work each day is to help people have more fun with their pilot certificate, whether by learning aerobatics, learning to fly a tailwheel airplane, or transitioning to a jet. Morris helps pilots achieve their dreams and keep them active in the general aviation community.
The Gauntlet Warbirds fleet now includes a T–6, two Extra 300s, a Decathlon, and an L–39 jet. Morris splits his time between his Aurora Municipal Airport home base and working with clients in their own aircraft at their home airports. He has had the thrill of piloting some of the most awe-inspiring airplanes, including the Sukhoi Su–29, Pitts S–2B and S–2C, Mudry CAP 10B, T–34, T–6, T–28, and Junkers Ju 52, and is rated in the L–29 Delfin and L–39 Albatros. He most recently checked out in the rare FM–2 Wildcat.
“It sure beats having a real job,” he says.
New draft airman certification standards are available for review on the FAA’s website. In addition to releasing the draft standards, the FAA also announced that it would be deleting questions from the private pilot airplane knowledge test, effective Feb. 9.
The Upwind Summer Scholarship Program, which gives high school students a chance to earn their private pilot certificate in the summer between their junior and senior year, is accepting applications for its 2015 scholarship.
If only one person had been helped, it all would have been worthwhile. But much more than that has been accomplished over the 25-year life of the National Gay Pilots Association, said its executive director.
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