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.
A documentary film tells the story of the “first to fly and the first to die for the United States in the Great War.”
AOPA President Mark Baker flew four women and girls on two flights March 4 as part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week activities designed to introduce more women and girls to aviation.
Rodney McKnight, winner of the 2013 Ceci Stratford Flight Training Scholarship, has earned his private pilot certificate.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.