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Pilot soloed 70 years agoPilot soloed 70 years ago

Photo courtesy of George H. Spencer

In 1944 George H. Spencer took an aviation science course at Cheshire Academy, a private school in Cheshire, Connecticut, and was inspired to take flying lessons. On Sept. 30, 1945, he soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub to the shock of his mother and went on to participate in general aviation all of his life. She knew he was learning to fly, but hadn’t expected her son would fly alone so soon. The Cheshire summer course was offered because World War II was in progress, a school official said. The school no longer offers an aviation course.

Spencer is an attorney and counsel to a firm on patent, trademark, and copyright law at age 87. While he has a current flight review given to him by his son, he is not currently flying.

“I now have about 3,500 hours, with considerable night and instrument time, and over the years I have owned a Skyhawk, a Cherokee Six, a Seneca, a Cessna 310, and a Mooney. I loved them all but the Cherokee was my all-time favorite,” Spencer said.

When Spencer’s son was nine years old, he developed a toy glider with adjustable ballast. He even got a patent for it and today is, like his father, a Yale graduate and flight instructor. His father always advised him to list on any college application that he held a patent, but the extra achievement wasn’t needed to get into Yale.

Spencer is proof that there are people out there with an interest in aviation but no exposure to it. Once exposed, the fire is lit and a lifelong interest is sometimes the result. After all, Spencer’s son became a flight instructor.

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.
Topics: Pilots

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