April 29, 2014 - Matthew Callahan, 18-year-old high school senior from Bellevue, Nebraska, is getting the opportunity of a lifetime this June when he’ll travel to Shreveport’s Downtown Airport in Louisiana and learn to fly at Tubreaux Aviation. Matt, EAA 863129, was announced last week as recipient of a complete private pilot training experience offered by Tubreaux to a previous EAA Young Eagle between the ages of 18 and 21. The scholarship includes lodging and transportation to and from Shreveport.
He received the good news via phone call from EAA’s Brian O’Lena, manager of Young Eagles and Youth Pathways when he got home from classes at Bellevue West High School on April 23. “I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Matt said. “I really feel fortunate to be selected for this incredible scholarship.
“I was told to be ready for four weeks of non-stop flying and to expect to solo within a week or so,” he added. “By the Fourth of July I should be a pilot.” While in Shreveport, Matt will live in a hangar apartment provided by Tubreaux Aviation.
“We’re all really excited, and look forward to Matt coming down,” said Jeremy Williams, chief pilot for Tubreaux Aviation. He’s a CFII, MFI, with a commercial seaplane rating and ATP, type-rated on the Citation 500. “We’ll work fast, safely, and hopefully provide him with a wide aviation experience so he learns as much as possible.”
EAA has been a large part of Matt’s life since the end of June 2008 when EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast made a tour stop at Plattsmouth Municipal Airport (PMV), south of Omaha. The Callahans had received a post card announcing the tour stop, and Matt, then 12, had always been interested in airplanes - especially the World War II warbirds. After much cajoling, Kathy recalls, she and husband Bruce, took him to the airport so he could see a Flying Fortress up close. Bruce is a retired 20-year U.S. Air Force officer, who flew on the RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft as an electronic warfare officer. He’s also a private pilot.
What was supposed to be a visit lasting a couple of hours became an all-day affair as Matt could not get enough of the majestic aircraft. EAA tour coordinator Pam Workman, EAA 412822, noticed the young boy’s intense interest in the airplane and asked if he’d like to come back in the morning to help polish it up.
Matt returned the following morning at 7:00…and again the next day. During that time he met several chapter members, even took his first Young Eagle flight in a Piper Cherokee. “That was when I think he decided he wanted to fly,” Kathy said. Sealing the deal was the tour’s offer to allow Matt and his dad to fly in Aluminum Overcast to help fill out one of the tour stop’s final flights.
Suffice to say, that weekend became a turning point in young Matt Callahan’s life.
Soon the family joined EAA, and Matt started to attend chapter meetings. Several members took him under their collective wing, as well as up in their airplanes. Matt has logged flights in several types, including a Comanche, Cessna 172, Aeronca 7AC Champ, and numerous RVs among others. He also attended four EAA Air Academy sessions, flying in several EAA aircraft, and is in the Gen. Curtis Lemay Offutt Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.
Kathy served a stint as the chapter’s Young Eagles coordinator. The family has also attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh several times. “We just turn Matt loose in Warbird Alley and ask him to text us when he leaves,” joked Kathy. Indeed, Matt’s goal is to become qualified someday to be a pilot in command of Aluminum Overcast. “He’s passionate about that plane,” Kathy said.
Along with the age requirement, those applying for Tubreaux’s flight training scholarship were required to write a short essay describing why they wanted to fly. Matt wrote that he wanted to share his passion and enthusiasm for flying with others like many of EAA Chapter 80’s pilots who mentored him over the past six years.
“I want to experience the excitement and satisfaction of flying Young Eagles,” Matt wrote. “A goal of mine is to fly EAA’s Aluminum Overcast and bring history to life for younger generations so that no one will ever forget the sacrifices made for our freedom. No matter what kind of aircraft I’m in, every flight is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and memorable. I want to fly because I cannot imagine my life without flying. It is an integral part of who I am and who I will always be.”
Matt will begin college in the fall at the University of Nebraska-Omaha Aviation Institute where he plans to major in aviation-professional flight and become a professional pilot. If all goes according to plan in Shreveport, he’ll have a pretty good head start on that goal.