Thomas Spencer pictured with one of the aircraft he routinely flies. (Contributed photo)

Young pilot soars to new heights

Southridge grad Spencer Thomas was inducted into the International Air Space Hall of Fame

When Spencer Thomas was 11 years old, his grandfather took him flying in a Cessna 172.

Last month, Thomas, now 21, was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

The Southridge School graduate is in his third year at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Arizona campus, studying aeronautical sciences with a minor in aeronautical business administration.

He’s a member of the 2017 Embry-Riddle Golden Eagles Flight Team. The intercollegiate flying team has won the most competitions in U.S. history – 30 consecutive regional championships and 11 national championships, including back-to-back nationals in 2016 and 2017, of which Thomas was a member.

Along with the team captains from each winning year, and six other current teammates, Thomas participated in the Hall of Fame induction at the San Diego Air 7 Space Museum’s Pavilion of Flight Nov. 9.

Today, the museum displays a picture, which is signed by all inductees, including Thomas.

Thomas told Peace Arch News that his family has 100 years of aviation history, and he was hooked on the career path ever since his grandfather took him flying 10 years ago. He took flying lessons – paid for by his grandfather – at Boundary Bay Airport.

“When you’re up there, even when it’s just by yourself or with your buddies, it’s always a good time,” he said in an interview last month. “There’s a sense of freedom up there, getting to see the ground from high up is amazing. You get a totally different perspective of everything below you.”

A duel-citizen, Thomas is hoping to become a first mate or captain at a major airline in North America in the next five to 10 years.

Thomas said he’s in a single-engine Cessna 150 “all the time,” and has logged more than 100 hours in the air since August. He has competed in, and won, three competitions during his time at the university.

He said the flying competitions are precision-based. One challenge is to land the aircraft closest to a marker on the ground with, and without, engine power. Another competition is navigation-based, he said, where team members need to fly a Cessna 172 to a series of destinations at an exact height and time.

He says there’s “not a chance” that he will get bored of the activity, and he’s preparing for four more competitions in the future.

“Usually about two to three weeks leading up to a competition, there’s no limit on flying,” he said. You can fly like 10 times a day.”

Just Posted

Feds earmark $7.5 million to help keep Surrey teens out of gangs

It’s expected as many as 4,730 teenagers in Surrey will benefit from it

Louder helicopter partly to blame for rash of complaints in Surrey: RCMP

Police say helicopter training is conducted in Cloverdale because it’s ‘a very practical area where we do a lot of real police work’

End ‘exploitative’ parking fees at Lower Mainland hospitals, group says

HospitalPayParking.ca is criticizing a new contract between health authorities and Impark

White Rock council challenged by Lady Alexandra conundrum

Feedback on reviewed project from highrise site owner and residents reveals division

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

Fraser Valley Bandits reveal mascot name

Berry the Bandit officially unveiled, makes first public appearance tomorrow

B.C. Green leader calls for long-term legislature financial audit

Andrew Weaver says trust in clerk and sergeant at arms is gone

No charges in fatal police Taser incident in Chilliwack

RCMP watchdog concludes no evidence of excessive or disproportionate force was used by officers

Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying with taxpayers’ money

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

Most Read