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Thread: Still soaring to new highs
09-11-07, 06:28 AM #1
Still soaring to new highs
September 11, 2007
Still soaring to new highs
FAA recognizes contributions of 80-year-old flight instructor
John Dougherty turned 80 in June, but the Irondequoit resident has no plans to retire.
He lives on his own, cooks his meals and drives himself to take care of his errands.
And five days a week, he's thousands of feet in the air giving flight instruction to student pilots.
Dougherty was recently presented the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the FAA. The designation recognizes pilots who have contributed to building and maintaining aviation through safe flight of more than 50 consecutive years.
"I have no accidents, no incidents, no violations," Dougherty said.
Known as a man of few words, Dougherty is hard-pressed to come up with the number of students he's helped train since beginning flight instructing in the 1960s.
"Hundreds," he estimates.
"Although he's certainly trained a lot of pilots, his specialty has been training flight instructors," said Guido Hassig, a safety inspector with the FAA office in Rochester. "These are many of the folks that go on to have careers in aviation."
Now the chief flight instructor at the Rochester Air Center on Scottsville Road in Chili, Dougherty first took to the skies when he was 12.
"My parents took me up on an introductory flight," he said. "I enjoyed it."
When he was 17, he served in the Marines during World War II, but was too young to become a pilot. After the war, he worked as a financial controller for a research organization. It was then he decided to become a pilot.
"I just liked it," he said. "I like the adventure of it."
Since his solo on July 12, 1952, Dougherty has racked up more than 14,000 hours of flight time as well as an advanced ground instructor certificate and an airline transport pilot certificate.
Less experienced pilots often seek Dougherty's guidance.
"I go to him with any sort of question I have," said Steven Stanwix, 28, another flight instructor at the center. "He has all the rules and regulations memorized."
Dougherty's Marine background suits his no-nonsense, straightforward persona. He says he can't pick a favorite flight or flying memory.
But Hassig and others who know Dougherty say he's got a dark sense of humor.
"It's not easy to get (anything) out of him," Hassig said.
Dougherty says he doesn't have many hobbies, but he exercises regularly.
"That's how I keep healthy," he said.
Like other pilots, Dougherty must be physically certified to maintain his pilot certificate. Blood pressure, eyesight and reflexes are among the items checked each year.
"He will not retire," said fellow flight instructor Bob Barrett. "Flying is his life."
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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