Melissa Williams-Brown, Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU), Greenville, South Carolina
The big day: Earned her private pilot certificate on February 8, 2008
Flight hours: Just short of 150
How she feels about overcoming her fear of flying: “I would rate it on the same level as delivering my twin boys for the all-time proudest moment in my life.”
Extra spending: Owns a Cessna 172
Jeff Gold of Greenville, South Carolina, took his first flight at 10 years old. Since then, he has always wanted to fly. Now, with 8,300 flight hours, Gold is getting his aviation fix as a Hawker pilot for Flight Options, a private-jet travel provider.
But he couldn’t have done it without his flight instructor and mentor, Carroll Joye, who was always there for Gold.
“I didn’t enjoy my initial training. I had a bad instructor,” says Gold, who met Joye when Gold was 20 and working at Orangeburg Aviation in South Carolina in order to afford flight training. “As soon as I met him [Joye], I soloed right afterward. He was awesome.”
It’s been 20 years since his first solo in 1983 and Gold is giving back to help future pilots overcome obstacles and achieve their aviation goals.
“I know I can do it for someone else,” he says. Right now, that someone is Melissa Williams-Brown of Greenville, South Carolina.
“I fly for fun, stress relief and the sheer challenge of flying because no two flights are exactly alike,” she says. “Every time I go up there is always an opportunity to improve existing skills, or learn new skills.”
Williams-Brown, a mother of 3-year-old twin boys, is about 75 percent finished with her instrument training.
“Jeff always e-mailed and called throughout the process and was especially helpful when I would get frustrated at various points in my training,” she said.
Williams-Brown’s biggest hurdle at the moment is dealing with her flight instructor’s scheduling issues. Earlier on, she went through several instructors because she didn’t feel things were progressing quickly enough.
“Jeff told me to relax and let things go at their own pace,” she says.
Gold’s advice is paying off.
“She is doing very well and taking this very seriously,” he says.
Gold leases his Cessna 152 to the local flight school and is often available to take a passenger up for their first discovery flight. Although he keeps busy flying and mentoring, Gold still finds time for a family life with his wife and four daughters.
As far as mentoring goes, Gold welcomes new students with the intention of helping them beyond their private pilot certificate to go onto instrument and commercial training.
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