An AOPA flight training scholarship in 2018 allowed Tony Adams, 27, the opportunity “to do what I was created to do, which was [to] fly,” he said.
The funds helped Adams earn his private pilot certificate on Jan. 29, and “after a little celebrating,” he jumped right into training for his instrument rating. His first passengers were family and friends, but he hopes to introduce many others to aviation. Adams said his ultimate goal is to earn his flight instructor certificate so he can give back to the aviation community that has embraced him.
One of Adams’ priorities is to coach “underprivileged people to inspire them to achieve their dreams.”
And he confided that inspiring others to follow in his footsteps “will serve a bigger purpose” for his life. In recent weeks, Adams reached out to his high school alma mater to bring the world of aviation to Wadleigh Secondary School students in New York City. Sharing his passion for flying and providing “as much guidance” as he can to inner city students are lofty goals, but Adams was confident he could mentor others to follow his footsteps.
His interest in aviation began when Adams was inspired by a poster of his middle school science teacher Harold Meinster piloting a Piper Archer. “You can see the enjoyment on his face and that was the hook. That was the first time I’d seen the airplane that I fly now—a Piper Archer.”
Adams volunteered during the AOPA Frederick Fly-In May 10 to 11 and he said “it was by far the best experience” he’s had since he earned his private pilot certificate. “I literally smiled the entire weekend.” The Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident noted the fly-in environment helped establish new friendships among fellow pilots, and he added that a few rain showers didn’t dampen his enthusiasm while he marshaled aircraft to parking.
“If you put me around planes, I am like a kid in the candy store and will get lost through all the excitement,” said the trucking company manager. Attending the AOPA eightieth anniversary fly-in was “a huge opportunity” to visualize his future, Adams noted. “Hands down [it was] the motivation I needed.”
He complimented flight instructor Alan Amato as his “pilot’s Mount Rushmore” who keeps Adams on target. “He is certainly a huge motivator, he’s someone I look up to as a mentor, and he is an amazing individual.” Adams said he admired the retired Tradewind Aviation pilot because he was “teaching for the love of it. I look to emulate him—as a pilot in the cockpit—and as a person outside the cockpit.”
As Adams gains valuable time on the simulator and behind the controls of aircraft, he can see his goal of giving back to others getting closer. “This organization has played a key role in my development,” said Adams, who expressed his thanks “for the many opportunities AOPA has given me.”
AOPA’s You Can Fly program is getting and keeping more pilots flying. If you would like to help build a stronger pilot community to protect our freedom to fly, contribute to the 2019 You Can Fly Challenge by August 31, and a matching grant from the Ray Foundation will double the impact of your donation.