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EAA Enables Self-Made Aviation Journey
Former Young Eagle, Oshkosh volunteer and Air Academy grad now well-established pilot and aspiring homebuilder
By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer
July 28, 2018 - Ty Sibley, EAA Lifetime 739864, cannot remember a time when he didn’t love aviation. His Young Eagles flight may have been the spark, even if it wasn’t a picture-perfect day in the air.
“My very first time in a small airplane was my Young Eagles ride,” Ty said. “It was the Anoka Airport, Chapter 237. That would’ve been early ’90s, back when the Young Eagles program was brand new. It was in a Piper Warrior, me and three other kids in the airplane, and I was hooked. It was a hot, muggy, bumpy day, and I was ready to throw up, and I loved every second of it.”
Soon Ty would have another memorable EAA experience, as he got a chance to attend Oshkosh for the first time to volunteer when he was 12. The experience left such an impression on the young Ty that he endeavored to get himself back the next year, whatever it took.
“The next summer I really wanted to come back, but my parents couldn’t afford to take the week off and send me out here,” he said. “My mom said, ‘If you want to go you’ve got to buy a bus ticket and do it yourself.’ She was probably joking, but I said okay. I did everything I could and I saved up enough money to buy a bus ticket.”
The then 13-year-old from a small town in Minnesota did in fact save up for that Greyhound ticket, and despite a five-hour layover in the not-so-small town of Milwaukee, Ty made it back to AirVenture that next year, and the next several after that.
Ty met Jim Gorman, EAA Lifetime 29182, by chance while he was volunteering at KidVenture. That meeting led to Jim Gorman and Jim Brown, EAA Lifetime 390248, sponsoring Ty to attend the EAA Air Academy.
Ty made friends during his stay at the Air Academy in 2001 that he still camps with annually even today, and thanks to many of the graduates getting married and having families of their own, their group in Paul’s Woods continues to grow.
After graduating from high school, Ty was accepted into and spent a year at the University of North Dakota’s aerospace program. He didn’t feel like the fit was right for him at the time and he left after a year, eventually signing on with the Navy, although his start date was delayed a bit due to his love for attending Oshkosh fly-in conventions.
“I enlisted in the Navy in December of 2004,” Ty said. “And they said you can leave in two weeks for boot camp, or you can leave in the middle of August. My whole life revolves around Oshkosh. I knew if I left in two weeks I’d probably miss Oshkosh. So I’m like, ‘I’ll wait until August.’”
That ended up being a fortuitous decision for Ty. One of his many Oshkosh friends, Dana Holladay, EAA 482002, ran into him during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2005 and made him an offer he simply couldn’t refuse.
“He asked if I ever finished my private, because I started at North Dakota and I never finished it,” Ty said. “I said no, but I really wanted to. He said come down to my flight school, we’ll finish your last 15 hours, and you pay me back someday, whenever you get a chance. Through the generosity of EAA again, we knocked it out.”
Ty was able to obtain his private pilot certificate just before his boot camp started. He spent the next four years in the Navy before being discharged and joining Insitu Commercial Aviation, where he currently works as a senior pilot. He was able to use his veteran’s benefits to pay for his bachelor’s degree, and his instrument rating through commercial flight training.
“I’ve been all over the world,” Ty said. “I did two six-month tours in Iraq as a civilian flying the UAS. I’ve been all over Europe and Australia.”
Ty said his first big purchase after getting his Insitu job was his EAA lifetime membership, which he obtained to show support for the organization. Nine years into his career at Insitu, Ty is still plenty involved with general aviation.
He founded EAA Chapter 1567 and currently serves as president. Additionally, Ty plans on beginning an RV build project soon, to ensure his children get to come up with aviation in their lives just as he did.
“I want my daughter Piper and my daughter Summer to grow up around airplanes,” Ty said. “What better way to do that than building one at your house?”