Saturday, June 11, 2016

Eyes on the sky: Klamath Community College graduates first pilot

Justin Walker, a student and flight instructor in the Klamath Community College aviation science program, pilots a Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopter in to the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport. 

KCC pilot Justin Walker poses with his son, Bair, in a Precision helicopter. Walker is the first to graduate the KCC program this year. 

Keep your eyes outside of the helicopter.

“That really stuck with me,” said Justin Walker, recalling a piece of advice he received while learning to pilot the aircraft.

“When you’re looking out at the distance, you’re able to better judge the attitude of the aircraft, keep it in control better.”

Walker has found it to be a metaphor as well for navigating his aviation science degree at Klamath Community College during the past two years.

“The same concept applies to going through the program and overcoming the challenges involved,” Walker said. “Focusing on the bigger picture and your end goal — that helped me to overcome the smaller challenges and hurdles that popped up along the way.”

Over the course of the last two years, Walker, 25, has risen from the ground level — as a lineman for Precision Aviation in Newberg, Ore. — to 6,000 feet as a KCC student and flight instructor with Precision.

Walker reached another milestone on Friday evening as the first student to complete an aviation science degree through KCC, will continue as a flight instructor with Precision Aviation.

“It feels good to be apart of something big,” Walker said, of being the first to complete the program.

He emphasized the outcome is a result of taking many individual steps toward his degree, including spending 400 hours in the air. He still has two courses to complete and is hopeful to finish at the end of Summer.

“It’s exciting to see all the hard work we put into it show results,” said James Reed, assistant chief KCC flight instructor, who has served as Justin’s flight instructor throughout much of the program.

Walker said he knew at the onset of the program that if he started, he was determined to finish.

He encourages those with a dream and a willingness to work hard to apply for the program.

“Determine if it’s really what you want to do,” he said.

He credits his wife, Rebecca Walker, for urging him to try the program.

While she was unable to attend graduation in person, Justin said Friday he was planning to “Face Time” with her via a smart phone while accepting his degree on stage that night.

Justin and his wife moved from Wyoming to Oregon in 2012, where he served as a lineman for Precision Aviation in Newberg, Ore. The couple then relocated to Klamath Falls in 2014 so he could pursue a degree in aviation.

At the same time, they also welcomed the birth of their first child, a son, Bair, now one year.

Which of course leads to the question about the couple’s parenting style.

Will they be helicopter parents?

In one sense, perhaps.

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