Passion for flying was one of the criteria used to launch a new scholarship at Maury Rasmussen Field Saturday, when a Burlingame pilot earned the first Tyler Orsow “Flying for Fun” Scholarship offered by Experimental Aircraft Association Mother Lode Chapter 484.
Orsow was killed with three other Americans Feb. 27, 2011, when the Grumman Goose amphibious aircraft they were flying crashed shortly after takeoff in the United Arab Emirates. It was Orsow’s 25th birthday.
Kelly Hoffman was born on the same day a year after Orsow.
“At the age of 13 he started building an experimental airplane and finished it two days before his 16th birthday,” wrote Terry Campbell, Orsow’s mother, in a letter notifying Hoffman she had earned 10 hours of tail-wheel training with Springfield Flying Service in Columbia.
Hoffman said she’s looking forward to the lessons.
“I almost flew us off the runway in my uncle’s (Cessna) 180,” also a “tail-dragger, she said with a laugh Saturday as the EAA chapter held a barbecue in her honor.
Hoffman learned to fly in Justin, Texas, at the Propwash Airport near her uncle’s home.
“It was an incredible way to immerse myself into aviation,” Hoffman wrote in her scholarship application. “I took a month off work and completed my training in 25 days by devoting all my energy into soaking up each lesson.
“While it was great to complete the training so quickly, it took me much longer to build up the confidence and experience to become a competent pilot. I ended my training that year with my first trip to Oshkosh (Wis.) and a flight all the way back to California from Texas in a Cessna 150. After that, I was officially hooked.”
Orsow soloed in six planes on his 16th birthday – including his home-built aircraft – and went on to earn his glider certificate, commercial pilot’s license, Certified Flight Instructor, Multi-engine Instructor, Airframe and Powerplant Certificate and others.
“Tyler always loved flying the vintage tail-wheel airplanes,” Campbell said, explaining why the Flying for Fun Scholarship entitles recipients to 10 hours of tail-dragger training. “He flew a 1929 Fleet from Hayward to the Hamptons when he was 18. His summer job at the age of 17 was flying a Luscomb to different air shows from Chino to Oshkosh, Wis., Arlington, Wash., all over the U.S. He loved the tail-wheel and seaplanes.”
To facilitate another scholarship, Jim McCloud of Foothill Aviation contributed his time to teach two recipients to take off and land seaplanes as part of the Tyler Orsow-Chuck Kimes Forever Flying Scholarship, offered by the Seaplane Pilots Association. Kimes – a veteran pilot who flew for American Airlines for 27 years – was the captain of the Grumman that crashed last year.
“Because of the generosity of flight schools, examiners and friends, we are able to award 12 seaplane scholarships a year,” Campbell said. The Mother Lode EAA chapter hopes to award two of the Flying for Fun Scholarships annually.
Hoffman can’t wait to hop into a tail-dragger and earn more hours in the sky. She set a goal to compete in her first aerobatics competition this year and she said the 10-hours of training are a first step toward loop-the-loops and barrel rolls.
“The first step is to obtain my tail wheel certificate, which will help me to fly some of the trainer aerobatic aircraft,” she said.
“Tyler loved aerobatics, too,” Campbell said.
When asked in her application why the Flying for Fun Scholarship should go to her, Hoffman said that to carry on Orsow’s legacy would be something special.
“Although I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Tyler,” she wrote, “it’s apparent from talking with others that he had a fiery passion for flight. That drive and love for flying is carried within me as well. A wonderful way to pass on a legacy is to invest in others who can carry that spirit, courage and determination that Tyler embodied. I’d be honored to carry a piece of Tyler with me in my flying.”
For more on either scholarship, contact the SPA at (863) 701-7979, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Campbell at 742-2198.
Contact Mike Taylor at email@example.com.