14-year-old student pilot to continue family’s aviation career legacy
Dozens of Piper Cubs landed as a group at Wittman Regional Airport Sunday morning in celebration of the type’s 80th anniversary, including one flown by 14-year-old Kyle Carden with help from Phil Grice.
“We could have made it in here Thursday afternoon, but we landed in Fond du Lac [first] … so he could fly the arrival into AirVenture,” Phil said.
Kyle said this is his first time coming to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and arriving with the fleet of iconic yellow aircraft is certainly a great introduction to the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration. Kyle’s father, Keith, got the Piper Cub in 2012 from a friend he met through competition aerobatics who was no longer flying it.
“Originally he had willed the Cub to Keith,” Phil said. “But he got to where he wasn’t flying … so he went ahead and transferred it to him, and basically gave him the airplane. The only caveat to that is Keith can’t sell it. Keith’s gotta find another deserving individual to pass it on to so someone else could be mentored and learn to fly.”
Kyle is currently learning to fly in the Cub, and his flight instructor is Phil’s brother.
“[Later] I’ll work my way up to bigger, more powerful airplanes,” Kyle said, adding that he plans to follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather by becoming a professional pilot.
Phil saw this trip to Oshkosh as an opportunity for Kyle to build some cross-country time and gain experience landing at unfamiliar airports.
“The thing we wanted to do was have him fly and do dead reckoning using a map and a pencil, and that’s basically what we did,” he said. “Because we came a long way we had to swap legs and give him a little break, but he basically followed the map all the way up here. I coached him, but he navigated with the map all the way up here. Now going home he gets to use the modern stuff.”
Kyle and Phil made 14 stops and flew 903 nm from Phil’s family airport, Roy E. Ray Airport, outside of Mobile, Alabama, to Oshkosh, a trip Kyle described simply as “long.”
“We left Wednesday morning; we had a little bit of weather issues starting off, and we had to divert for some fog and land where the weather was better, and wait for that to clear,” Phil said. “So that changed our route a little bit. The whole trip … took about 16 hours of flying, and we averaged about 65 mph.”
When Kyle is finished with his flight training, he’ll be a fourth-generation pilot. When the time is right, he plans to hand the Cub over to his younger brother, Kurt, and from there it will go to another deserving young aviation enthusiast, creating a pay-it-forward tradition that will hopefully last throughout the aircraft’s lifetime.
“I think the neat part of it is how they acquired [the Cub], and what’s in the future for the airplane,” Phil said.