Junior pursues passion, soars to new heights

Ron Toback-Wolf

Becoming a pilot is a lofty goal. It takes a very down-to-earth man to truly soar in the air, plane and simple. Junior James Addison has put hours of work into his flight training, and has shown great results. After flying his first plane at the age of 13, James has spent the last three years studying and working to become a licensed pilot.

“I’ve wanted to fly planes ever since I first saw one fly over my house in this area when I was 5 or 6,” James said. “I’ve always loved everything about planes.”

James’ fascination with all things aerial can be traced back to when he was only 2 years old, when his mother took him to a bookstore expecting to purchase a toddler book. James had other plans though, and insisted on a large coffee table book about airplanes.

“It took multiple nights of bedtime reading to read the whole book to him,” Rosie Addison said. “Eventually, James had memorized everything in the book about all the different planes, and then by four, he could tell you about all the different planes and why they were made.”

Though many may see flying a plane as a complicated, unreachable activity, James takes it all in stride as he works toward his first solo flight and exams that can begin once he turns 17.

“Flying a plane is like riding a very difficult bike,” James said. “It’s simple once you understand, but there are lots of things going on at the exact same time. That’s the most difficult part about it. It’s only going to get more difficult from now on.”

Though a little hesitant about flying herself, James’ mother enjoys watching him fly and seeing him pursue his dreams.

“It wasn’t scary when I found out he wanted to be a pilot,” Addison said. “But it was definitely scary the first time he went up in a plane and was going to be personally flying the plane with the instructor. It’s always going to be a little bit scary for me, every single flight lesson, because I worry about the plane crashing”

During his second flight, he was working on circuit patterns, flying around the airport, takeoff, turn-base, and going final to land. The plane he was flying required the back wheels to land first before putting the nosewheel down gently. Things did not go as planned, and all three wheels touched down at the same time. The nosewheel compressed, the propeller almost touched the ground and resulted in the engine needing to be rebuilt. 

“It was a whole mess of parts to deal with and I don’t want that to happen again,” James said. “It wasn’t too scary, the nose of the aircraft just went a bit farther than it normally does, but I could definitely feel it; the landing was more rough than it usually is.”

Addison is motivated to become a pilot and will soon receive his private pilot license. After high school, he plans on pursuing a commercial airline pilot license.

“It’s a pleasure having James in Air Force JROTC,” Addison’s JROTC instructor Jeffrey Bounds said. “We are learning about aviation history this school year and he is always eager to share his experiences about flying during class.” 

James has had the opportunity to fly many different types of planes over the past three years, including a multi-million dollar Piper Meridian. His siblings and dad have flown with him several times, but his mom is still hesitant. 

“I have not gone up in a plane with him, because I’m a chicken,” Addison said. “James is very calm and he always keeps a level head about him. He never lets himself get really rattled about anything, and he’s very detail-oriented when it comes to the things that he’s interested in.”

James’ teachers have noticed how both his mentality and attitude assist him in achieving everything he sets his mind to.

“James is a great student and has great imagination,” James’ welding teacher John Fazzino said. “He carries himself very well in class; he’s a leader. He knows a lot about a lot of things which includes welding, which will help him become a great pilot. I think he’ll be very successful in whatever he does.”

James believes that a pilot needs determination to develop the skills required to be successful. Piloting is not something that can be entered into on a whim, as it is a costly and time intensive process.

“It’s important to research and study a lot,” James said. “Knowledge is key, especially in a field like this where there’s multiple things going on. Any number of things can happen. X situation will probably affect multiple parts of your flight so you need lots of knowledge.” 

Bounds has continued to be impressed by James and looks forward to having him in class one more year.

“I think it is awesome he has a goal in mind and he is working hard to achieve his goal,” Bounds said. “He has a natural aptitude for flying and I have no doubt he will make an exceptional pilot.”

James’ training has been difficult and time consuming, but his perseverance and determination has helped him push through.

“Whenever I take off and level out and cruise, it’s really different,” James said. “I’m in the air. I can see everything. It’s very calm. Piloting is what I want to do now, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon.”