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Published: 7/15/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

TOLEDO MAGAZINE

Area man achieves his dream of becoming a pilot

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Flight student Don Coburn, from Sylvania, does a preflight check on a Cessna 182 before proceeding with Instrument flight rules (IFR) training with Suburban Aviation, Inc. Flight Instructor Nick Zink. Flight student Don Coburn, from Sylvania, does a preflight check on a Cessna 182 before proceeding with Instrument flight rules (IFR) training with Suburban Aviation, Inc. Flight Instructor Nick Zink.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Don Coburn grew up with the quintessential childhood dream that for the vast majority of us is far, far out of reach.

He wanted to be an astronaut or a fighter pilot, a person who challenges gravity and wins. Then comes reality, that great equalizer that sends all but a tiny percentage of us on to jobs hauling freight, staring at computer screens, crunching numbers, or some other prosaic, unexciting gig.

"Flying has been in my blood since the day I was born," said Mr. Coburn, a 41-year-old Sylvania-area businessman. "I was just born wanting to fly. I wanted to be an astronaut, but my vision wasn’t really good enough to be an astronaut or fighter pilot."

Unlike a lot of guys, he actually did something about it, accepting his limitations and then learning how to fly planes both for pleasure and business. He recently began training for his instrument flight rating, which will allow him to fly into clouds and use only his instruments to navigate in low visibility.

An aeronautical engineer with a degree from Ohio State University, he has been in sales for the past 15 years and runs a business that helps other companies cut their overhead costs. About four years ago he earned his pilot’s license and he owns a share of a Cessna 182 Skylane with a group of other people.

PHOTO GALLERY: Sylvania-area man achieves childhood dream

He uses the plane to fly to and from business meetings and the IFR status will allow him to go up on overcast and cloudy days. The plane opens up new markets to him because he can cover more distance much quicker.

Flight student Don Coburn, left, from Sylvania, and Suburban Aviation, Inc. Flight Instructor Nick Zink, right, joke about the turbulent air while talking about their  flight plan. Flight student Don Coburn, left, from Sylvania, and Suburban Aviation, Inc. Flight Instructor Nick Zink, right, joke about the turbulent air while talking about their flight plan.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

"My mission is to be able to conduct a meeting and be able to be back home for dinner," Mr. Coburn said, noting that he travels as far as Chicago or Tennessee and back in a day for business.

He also uses it for pleasure, recently returning from a weekend jaunt to Niagara Falls with his wife and three children.

There also is a great deal of independence attached to the ability to jump in a plane and soar 5,000 to 10,000 feet above the Earth.

"For me it’s a freedom, it’s a perspective on the world that you just don’t get when you’re hugging the ground. You’re seeing the world you live in everyday from an entirely different perspective."

Contact Rod Lockwood at: rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.



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