Dallas Karlin and Robert Munsch II receive preflight instruction from CFI Todd Taylor prior to taking their first flight in Hays Aircraft’s training aircraft, a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
With 33 years of teaching in public schools under his belt, Todd Taylor, Hays, changed professional hats as he retired from Hays USD 489 in May.
A former technology education instructor at Hays High School, Taylor began his “second career” Aug. 1 as a full-time certified flight instructor at Hays Aircraft, located at Hays Regional Airport.
“I enjoyed all of those 33 years in teaching,” Taylor said. “It was a job that I loved to do, and I’m (now) going to a job that I love to do.”
A familiar face in aviation circles for many years, Taylor earned his private pilot license in 1988 while teaching at the former Kennedy Middle School in Hays. He continued with his flight training and went on to earn a commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating and certified flight instructor certificate.
Taylor began teaching students to fly in 1997 while he also was coaching football, cross-country and track.
“I flew my students on weekends,” he said.
When asked about safety in the air for the student as well as for himself, he does nothing but smile.
“I feel safer in the air with a student than on the road with students during those 20 years that I taught drivers ed,” he said.
“I tell all of my flight students — or driving students when I had them — when you get your license, it’s a license to learn. Even the most seasoned pilots are always learning. We create good habits early on, because bad habits are hard to break.”
Flight opportunities abound
The veteran educator-instructor said there is room for growth in flight instruction.
“Flight instruction is untapped right now,” he said. “Our job is to promote aviation. With this size (of a) community, there’s room for growth in general aviation.”
He said, however, he is pleased by the number of students who are currently in his flight training program as he begins training on a full-time basis.
Noting he also teaches ground school as a part of overall flight instruction, Taylor said other flight services provided at Hays Aircraft include: aircraft rental, aircraft charter service (single and multi-engine), aircraft maintenance and refueling, hangar rental and flight reviews.
He added Hays Aircraft also provides services for commuter flights as well as maintenance services on the field that include: Kansas Highway Patrol, EagleMed, UPS freight aircraft and RANS Aviation.
Interest sparked early
Taylor remembers when he was a teenager, a friend took him for his first airplane ride during the Dickinson County Fair in Abilene.
And like so many other aviation enthusiasts, his interest in flying peaked when the movie “Top Gun” hit the big screen in 1986.
Taylor grew up in Solomon. After graduating from high school, he attended Emporia State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in education.
Then following a teaching stint at Gorham Middle School, he went on to earn a master’s degree in education at Fort Hays State University.
He and his wife, Kay, reside in Hays and are parents to six adult children.