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Passing the Torch

Mother-daughter Team Flies T-6 to Oshkosh

By Chris Henry, EAA Lifetime 41434

August 25, 2016 - Nestled in the plains of Indiana, among the lush farm fields is the small town of Kokomo. It was dubbed the “City of Firsts” for its contributions throughout the first half of the 20th century. Just outside of the town is an airport, and amazing things take place there as well.

While most days the airport pattern is filled with your everyday traffic, on occasion one can see a checkered-tail throwback to the days of World War II. That checkered tail is of the North American T-6 Texan owned by EAA Lifetime 45407, Nathan Davis. The Texan’s distinctive roar fills the air at the airport and garners looks everywhere it goes. But the sound and paint scheme are not the only things that stand out about this aircraft. 

On many days the T-6 is piloted by a special crew: pilot Laura Stants, EAA 492845, and her 15-year-old daughter Kaylee. For Laura, aviation is not a job or a hobby. It is a way of life. She flies corporate aircraft and runs a flight school with her husband Steve. Over the course of her 25-year career, Laura has accumulated more than 9,000 hours in the air and more than 350 hours in the T-6 alone. While one would think she would get enough of airplanes on the job, she chooses to relax along with her family at the hangar, and on a nice evening will wheel out the T-6 for a flight.

Laura and Kaylee have made two trips to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in the T-6, the most recent being 2016. Kaylee has been flying her whole life. Kaylee wrote a school paper about going upside down in the T-6 with her mom and caused a bit of a stir at school, but she still got an A.

Kaylee said she intends to get her private pilot certificate and instrument rating because she loves the utility of general aviation and being able to get somewhere quickly and on her own schedule. She began flying in a Citabria and has since taken lessons in a Champ, a C-172, and C-172RG, and flown a wide variety of airplanes including a Baron, Seneca, Aerostar, Super Viking, PT-26, and T-6, among others. Her favorite ride though was with Nathan in his North American P-51D Mustang. After the flight, and as per the rules, she wiped down the plane. 

Flying the T-6 to Oshkosh as a mother-daughter crew is a trip that is special for so many reasons. Here, a young woman is being given the chance to keep the torch going forward. She has the chance to be the spark plug for others of her generation to ensure we do not forget the past. And she is getting to do it in the very same aircraft that women before her, some of our nation’s first female military aviators, the WASP, made history in.

It is Kaylee and her generation that will keep the traditions of the past alive for those in the future. When asked how their trips are different than an average mother-daughter trip to the mall, Kaylee said, “I know my mom and I aren’t normal, and I am good with that.”

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