When pilots are asked why they started flying, they often say they have always had a fondness for aviation. Infected by it as a child, Bill Shepard of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, remembers playing with—and crashing—remote-controlled model airplanes, and then spending hours to repair them.
As it does for many others who dream of becoming pilots, years pass and life’s responsibilities get in the way, but Shepard couldn’t stop wondering if he would ever have the chance to learn to fly or if he would even like flying. Along the way he met Iowa Flight Training Chief Instructor Tim Busch, who took him up for an introductory flight, which left Shepard “hooked.”
Busch, 50, has been flying since 1980 and is certificated for single-engine, instrument, and glider instruction. He has around 2,700 flight hours and has given nearly 2,000 hours of flight instruction. He is also the president of the Iowa Aviation Promotion Group, a nonprofit organization that promotes general aviation within the state to help grow the pilot population.
Shepard had his first lesson with Busch in October 2003 and was able to battle the weather to earn a private pilot certificate in March 2005. “I was waiting on weather a lot,” said Shepard, 47, now with 530 flight hours. “With hard winters in Iowa, it’s hard to build training hours in zero to 40-degree weather.” Also, it prevents VFR flying, which is why Shepard went on to obtain his instrument rating in October 2007 with Busch—important to Shepard’s success as a financial representative licensed in more than 30 states.
“My travel is 60 percent personal and 40 percent professional,” said Shepard, owner of a 2005 Cirrus SR22. “My business is done better face to face, and flying allows me to take a day trip to see my clients.”
Busch attributes part of Shepard’s success to his different approach to flight training. “One instructor, start to finish,” said Busch. “Consistency is necessary so they get the best training possible.”
And sharing common bonds.
“It’s less about flying and more about teaching,” said Busch, who spent 13 years teaching martial arts. “It’s about getting in people’s heads.” This is a concept Shepard understands as he, too, has experience with the discipline required of martial arts.
“I always believed I flew safely and efficiently,” said Shepard. “But with Tim as my only instructor, it wasn’t until I heard comments about how great my technique was from other CFIs I’ve flown with that my appreciation for him grew further.”
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