Two local teens have taken to the air, exploring the world of flight. Although both explored different paths to their flying experiences, they have been bitten by the bug and are hoping to pursue careers in the aeronautical field.
Reid Roach, age 18 of Oxford, a recent graduate in the Easton High School Class of 2021 and has a Navy ROTC scholarship to attend the University of Florida in the fall, began his interest in flying as a child. His father, Whit Roach, who is a retired Marine Harrier pilot and now flying for FedEx, took his son flying at a young age and Reid loved it.
“Both my dad and my grandfather flew in the military, so I listened to their stories over the years and always knew I wanted to fly, too. I took flight lessons at Trident Aircraft in Easton, going to the airport every day for a month and a half. I flew with an instructor and after 17.6 hours of instruction, I soloed the aircraft in August of 2020,” Reid comments. “It was really fun, and things clicked for me and I knew what I wanted to do for a living after taking the lessons.”
Reid adds that visits to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and attending air shows in the area also sparked his interest in flying in his early years. Science became his favorite subject in school, and he recently graduated third in his class. He knew he wanted to be a career officer in the Navy, so when the Navy ROTC scholarship to the University of Florida became a reality, he decided it was the best fit. The college has an aerospace engineering program, which he plans to pursue.
While he loved his solo flight, he quipped, “The scariest thing about it was a vulture flew pretty close to the plane. Fortunately, I avoided him.”
Reid plans on getting his pilot’s license through the military which is an affordable way to do it.
Henrick Hammons, age 14 of Easton, took a different route to flying. Henrick will be entering Easton High School as a freshman this fall. During his middle school years at St. Michaels Elementary Middle School, he joined the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Maryland Wing – Easton Composite Squadron and the program has ignited a passion he has had since a young child. His father, Tod Hammons, who is a former flight instructor and has worked as a pilot at various points in his life, has always shared his love of flying with his son. Now, the two are enjoying Civil Air Patrol together.
“My dad is now a CAP Mission Pilot, helping to instruct students in the program while also providing orientation flights and transport missions for CAP,” comments Henrick.
Henrick discovered CAP during Easton Airport Days at age nine. He had to wait until he was 12 years old to join the program. The program offered him five orientation flights in a powered aircraft and five flights in a glider. He was hooked.
Since then, Henrick has been on the fast track to cadet leadership in the CAP, recently becoming his squadron leader at age 14.
Henrick said, “One of my favorite things has been the personal development I have made through CAP – it’s a great organization for learning so many things. Most recently, we participated in a search and rescue training exercise. I am working toward becoming an instructor for ground team and urban direction finding.”
While his interest started with aircraft models and remote-controlled aircraft, Henrick’s father encouraged him to learn about gliders as a way to learn about flight. Henrick attended a mini camp at Eastern Shore Soaring Center in West Virginia and after 40 flights (12.2 hours) soloed in November 2020. He recalls, “It is fundamental stick and rudder flying and is a good base to build from…My solo flight was thrilling.”
Henrick needs to be age 16 to get a private pilot’s license for gliders. The CAP offers solo camps for powered aircraft at age 16 as well. Henrick hopes to pursue both. In the meantime, he will take STEM courses and work on degrees in the CAP before pursuing an aerospace engineering degree in college after high school.
For further information about the Civil Air Patrol Program, visit http://mdwg.cap.gov/index.php/squadrons/easton-composite-squadron/ or call Tod Hammons at 443-235-9307. The CAP Program meets Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at Easton Airport. For further information about flying lessons in Easton, contact Trident Aircraft at 410-604-1333 and www.tridentaircraft.com or Easton Aviation at 888-454-5909 and www.eastonaviation.com.