Truman student learns to fly at Kirksville Regional Airport

Justin Grant

Kirksville Regional Airport is not just home to Cape Air-it's also where people come to learn how to fly.

Justin Grant is fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a pilot. The 19-year-old Truman State University student started his flight lessons in June in Minneapolis, and is finishing them here in Kirksville. He said the lessons invovle about 50 hours of flying and 150 hours of studying and groundwork.

"By far the most nerve-wracking thing was my first solo," said Grant. "That's when you take the plane out and fly it yourself."

His flight instructor is Thomas Goad. He flies cargo for UPS overnight and is a flight instructor during his spare time. He said the Kirksville Regional Airport is better for students because it's less overwhelming. He said conquering the landing is the most challenging for students.

"The toughest thing is learning how to land the plane by far. It's just interpreting the speed of the aircraft along with the descent, numerous things to manage and alot of things can go wrog at a low altitude."

Flight students are also faced with several obstacles and different scenarios when learning how to fly.

"It was in Minnesota with my other instructor, and we were coming into an airport and for training purposes, he turned off all of the lights and turned off the runway lights," said Grant. "It was pitch black and I had to land the airplane so that was, by far, the hardest and probably scariest experience."

"Every moment is scary with a student," said Goad. "You're not in control of the plane. You're trusting them with your lives and they understand that."

The plane Justin Grant uses for his lessons cost $100 per hour to rent and it is stationed at the Kirksville Regional Airport. The lessons are $40 an hour and Goad said it can cost anywhere between $7,500 and $10,000 to obtain a private pilot license.