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Nick Moran

Living the dream

Nick Moran likes the wind. Growing up in Washington, he learned to fly fixed-wing aircraft at 15 and earned his certificate at 17 at Glacier Aviation in Olympia.
Pilots
Photographer by Mike Fizer

Working at the Bremerton naval base as an ordnance mechanic, Moran longed for a more active lifestyle, so he and wife, Magen, pulled stakes and moved to New Zealand to kite surf. They were instructors in both kite surfing and paddle boarding and “had a blast” but eventually wanted to return to the States. They chose Maui, known for its trade winds and Kona winds.

The “Valley Isle” sits between two volcanos, which create a deep valley that acts like a giant wind tunnel. Trade winds can be as strong as 40 mph; Kona winds in the fall and winter months are usually 12 to 18 mph. But whatever the season, it’s windy on Maui. Moran met up with a friend and started flying helicopters. Eventually the pair ran a flight school with a Schweizer S300, teaching high-wind flying and mountain flying. When the friend went to the airlines, Moran bought a Robinson R44. “I call it my one-ship wonder,” he said. “It’s my Swiss Army knife; it can do everything I need it to do.”

His company at Kahului Airport (one of the windiest airports in the nation) is Go Fly Maui and he teaches visiting pilots how to fly in the wind, navigate 10,000-foot mountains, and enjoy flying in the valleys. “The high winds are not crazy if you’re used to it,” Moran said. “I love a mellow day as much as anyone and the smooth air is awesome. But when the wind stops, I can’t breathe.”

goflymaui.com, @goflymaui

Email [email protected]

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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