Countless numbers of young children have fallen in love with the idea of becoming a pilot. Imagine a child holding a toy plane in their hands while making a “whoosh” sound as they move the tiny aircraft through the air.
Steven Hudson, of Rome, is a 16-year-old student at Rome High School and a cadet in the school’s Air Force ROTC. He is taking his dream of flight and turning it into a reality. “Ever since I had the opportunity to sit in the captain’s seat of an L-1011 when I was four years old I’ve been drawn to flying,” Steven said.
If you were in the Rome area and looked skyward on Dec. 19, there’s a good chance that you may have seen Steven completing his first solo flight as a student pilot in a Cessna C-172. With the completion of his solo flight Steven Hudson is one step closer to finishing a goal he set after taking in a day with the locally based TigerFlight Foundation at the age of eleven.
According to Steven’s mother, Janice Hudson-Huff, the TigerFlight visit was a defining moment in Steven’s life after moving from Canada to Northwest Georgia. “When we moved here I wanted to find something like the aviation camps he would attend in Canada,” Huff said.
The TigerFlight Foundation, based at Rome’s Richard B. Russell airport, is a nonprofit flight-based motivational program for kids designed to encourage goal setting and working toward those goals. The foundation also hosts flying events on the second Saturday of every month, offers school tours and even has a paperback book based on the program titled Jake and the TigerFlight.
They also have a growing hangar based military museum and planes painted in orange and blue tiger strips. It was enough to convince Steven that he wanted to do more than dream about being a pilot. After attending the program and going for a ride in one of the TigerFlight planes Steven set his goal, … and he has worked toward it.
“TigerFlight is a place where anyone can set a goal and work towards that goal,” Steven said. “I started volunteering and became a member when I was eleven years old and helping out around the hanger and with events over the years has really helped the process of earning my wings,” Steven said. “The motivational speech inspires anyone to earn their wings on any goal they set. The years I spent volunteering at TigerFlight pushed my desire to pursue aviation even further.”
Kent Whitaker is a author, culinary writer and sports writer living in Chattanooga, Tenn. You can follow him on twitter @thekentwhitaker.