Airplane GEEK

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Those First Flights Really Do Make a Difference

By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102

Sometimes a good story just falls into your lap or in this case, on to the floor. Jim McRae, EAA 8059, a dear friend long since passed, left me his logbook. This contains his complete flying history and includes a record of the many times we flew together up and down the west coast in his Champ and later in his Citabria.

The logbook fell out of the bookcase and open to a page that contained another familiar name in a record of a Young Eagles flight back in 1997. On that day in September, 24 years ago, Jim and other EAA pilots were hosting a Young Eagles Day event at the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, British Columbia. David McIntosh, EAA 1102010, then a 15-year-old museum volunteer and Young Eagle, took a 25-minute flight with Jim that made such a lasting impression on him that he went on to a career in aviation.

Within a year this young enthusiast had earned a glider licence and the year after that his PPL, both while with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. He then built up some hours flying an amateur-built Jodel from a grass strip in a suburb of Vancouver. Life intervened at that point as it so often does and he took a number of years off from flying. In 2016 he got back into it with a vengeance, earning his commercial and multi IFR at Coastal Pacific. Once done with that, he put it all to work instructing at Skycraft Aviation in Langley.

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Air Georgian, a privately owned charter airline, hired him as a first officer on a Beech 1900D where he quickly upgraded to captain. Later, he moved to to Jazz where he currently is a first officer on CRJ-900s based out of Vancouver. He has come a long way from the Jodel at Delta Air Park. The CRJ, powered by two GE CF34 turbofans, has 86 seats to the Jodel’s two.

I asked him a question: “What is the best job that you’ve had flying so far?” His reply, verbatim: “I’ve seriously loved all my jobs in aviation! Instructing was so satisfying, being captain on the Beech 1900 taught me so much about commanding an airplane and flying the CRJ-900 for Jazz has been amazing because the captains I fly with are all excellent and supporting.”

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Forced back to his roots by a COVID-related furlough, he is currently once again freelancing as an instructor, teaching taildragger skills to one and all on a Cessna 170. He has just recently received a recall notice from Jazz for some recurrent training but doesn’t expect to get back to flying full time until commercial air travel gets back to normal.

Oh and did I mention, David still finds time to be a volunteer at the museum where it all started?

My friend Jim would be proud to know that his contribution of a simple 25-minute airplane ride resulted in such a life-changing event for one young man.

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