March 14, 2014
By Jill W. Tallman
The regulars at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in Leonardtown, Md., looked a little askance when members of The JaM Project laid down a temporary dance floor inside the airport’s main hangar and proceeded to shoot a music video to the strains of John Mayer’s “Gravity.”
“All the guys at the airport were eyebrows up,” said Justin Myles, who appears in the video. The JaM Project, which he cofounded with Mark Orsborn, specializes in choreography, master classes, dance instruction, and music editing.
The video melds tap dance sequences that take place in the hangar with footage of Myles preflighting and flying a Cessna 172. You can view it on Youtube.
Myles choreographed the routine as a means of melding two passions: aviation and dance. “I’ve had the love and passion for aviation since I was a child living near College Park Airport,” he said. He has wanted to be a dancer and entertainer since he was 3 years old. After graduating college, he toured with the Broadway production of STOMP.
“The technical lighting director, Tim, found out my [interest] in aviation. He said, ‘Well, you know I’m a pilot, right?’ Jokingly, I responded with, ‘That explains the headset you wear every night for the show!’” Myles said. “He found out my interest in flying because my fellow cast members had mentioned that ‘Justin travels with an airplane simulator, joystick and all.’”
That was in 2007. Tim took Myles and another cast member for an introductory flight lesson in Greenville, S.C., while the show was on tour. Myles earned a private pilot certificate in December 2010.
“I’ll never forget what the examiner said to me at the end of the checkride. ‘Flying and dance are very similar and go hand and hand. You have to have a keen sense of rhythm in the cockpit and balance for the airplane,’” Myles said. “A light bulb went off in my head.”
Off tour, Myles uses his pilot’s certificate to fly to music gigs and teaching conventions around the country. He said Orsborn pitched the idea of doing a concept video to “Gravity,” whose lyrics include the stanza “Gravity is working against me/and gravity wants to bring me down.”
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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.
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