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'One I'll never forget'

Lineman gets Extra aerobatic surprise

Sometimes the people that aviation can uplift the most are right in front of us.

Alton Downer works as a lineman at Signature Flight Support at Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Maryland, to pay for flying lessons. The U.S. Army combat veteran has logged about 20 hours of dual instruction on his way to becoming a private pilot.

Whenever he refuels the AOPA Extra 300L donated by Bruce Williams to continue its pilot education mission, he asks technical questions about the unlimited aerobatic airplane's performance. AOPA offered Downer a flight in the Extra, and the Jamaica-born student pilot accepted with enthusiasm.

For the next half-hour, Downer rode through one aerobatic maneuver after another, and he said the experience left him more infatuated with flight than ever.

"It's amazing to see what's possible," he said. "I never expected anything like this. This day is one I'll never forget."

Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Topics: People, Aerobatics

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