Here’s a nice little history update for you all…. Back at the beginning of 2019 we only had our original single blue Cessna 150, “Blueberry.” The club heard about a yellow Cessna 150 down in Florida that was in good condition and a good price and few club benefactors put some loan money together to purchase what became known as “Bumble Bee.” Our recently “hired” new CFIs, Tara Ryan and Mercedes Hartmann Colliver (she’s married to our one of our current CFIs, Austin Colliver) were duly despatched to go and pick it up, but little did they know it was about to turn into a bit of an adventure! Here they are about to set off back for Bowman.
Bad enough that it was mid-summer and there was a lot of thunderstorm activity to contend with but they also found that at times Bumblebee wouldn’t climb very well. Maybe the heat and humidity of summer? Carb icing? What was intended to be a quick trip elongated to a few days as they tried to find a way around the daily weather build-ups only to be grounded by the storms at a succession of middle-of-nowhere airports. But they managed to get it back safely and an intermittent stuck valve was eventually discovered and fixed. Flight Club 502 now had two planes! Mercedes and Tara settled in to instruct and build their own flight-time with an eye on that airline job.
But this was 2019, and by the end of the year there were strange reports coming out of China about a particularly nasty type of flu. By the spring of 2020 the Covid pandemic was in full force. Flight Club had to cease operations for six weeks until we had more information and could figure out new protocols that could keep us safe. This was a particularly bad time for all time-building young CFIs trying to further their careers and get to the airlines. The public in general stopped flying and the airlines were forced to cut back and they stopped hiring new pilots. Mercedes had even been prospectively hired by Republic Airways and had been given a date to start her training but it was canceled. Tara stopped flying completely for a while to take care of her family and figure out what she needed to do.
But this is them now! In 2021, things started to turn around. In the summer, Republic called Mercedes back and she started training. Later in the year Tara was also hired by Republic. Many of you may already know that Mercedes has recently completed upgrade training to Captain (there’s another Blog entry here about that) and this week they found themselves paired to fly together again!…... Captain Mercedes and First Officer Tara who is also just about to depart on her own upgrade training and will also be a Captain very soon! I would bet that neither of them dreamt in 2020/21 that they were this close to being able to do this!! Perseverance is a virtue!
Congratulations to you both! We’re very proud of you, your achievements, and of the time you both spent with us here at Flight Club 502. We love a success story!