“Keeping the fun in flying!"
Dennis Bunn, 1st Operation Fly North Carolina
Gold Level Winner from Goldsboro
I recently hung up the phone after talking to Dennis Bunn, our latest Operation Fly North Carolina Gold Level Winner, and thought, “this guy is stoked about aviation!” One of the most rewarding things about the program is having the opportunity to get to know the pilots that take on the challenge of flying to all 81 participating airports in the State. Dennis graciously took time to tell me his story about how he almost quit flying while training for his Private Pilot license and how he persevered to complete Operation Fly NC.
If you were asked to describe Dennis most would say he is just a good ol’ country gentleman in the best sort of way. He says, “maam, sir, thank you,” holds doors open for ladies and makes no apologies for being a southern gent. His father taught him all there is to know about working on large trucks, the kind that keep the wheels of this country moving. After years of cutting his teeth working for someone else he decided to strike out on his own. “It’s a lot of work,” Bunn stated, but thanks to his mother and father’s help they keep the logistics of the business running smoothly.
L to R: John Hill, Michael Atkinson, Brandon and Dennis Bunn
As most pilots soon realize, it’s tough to take rental aircraft on longer trips and that was definitely in his plan. Fortunately, his business has been good enough to buy a dependable Piper Archer that he is grateful to own and fly. It is great to be able to share the experience and split the expense with fellow pilots and friends. In fact, he encouraged one of his best flying buddies, John Hill, to work on Operation Fly NC too.
Dennis is didn’t discover flying until a few years ago. He was flying via airline to Florida and noticed being overly nervous as he walking down the jet-bridge to the aircraft. This experience motivated Dennis to face his fear and figure out what this aviation thing was all about. He admitted, “I didn’t even know flying was a possibility until after the flight on that airliner followed by a trip out to the local airport.” Upon his first visit to the Goldsboro-Wayne County Jetport (KGWW) he noticed a banner Wayne Aviation, a local flight school owned by Jeff and this wife Shawn Jennings, had put up advertising a “discovery flight.” After his first flight he was hooked and signed up to take flying lessons but challenges were just around the corner.
After logging several hours of instruction with a flight instructor Dennis became frustrated until he read an article titled, “Don’t let your flight instructor ruin your fun of flying.” Realizing it was time for a change he switched instructors for a much better fit. He feels like it is important to have someone in the right seat that is positive and has your best interest in mind. Supported by the Jennings he was able to patch things up with the instructor and actually worked with him again later in his training. Dennis completed his training and earned a Private Pilot license to further enable his passion. Flying also made it possible for finding his soulmate.
Dennis thought he was unlucky at love until a chance introduction by mutual friends to a beautiful woman at a local restaurant. He did what many of us in the “single” pilot scene call “pulling the pilot card,” asking this lady of interest to go on a flight. Fast forward, he proposed to her while on a flight to Ocracoke, she said “yes,” and subsequently had the ceremony and reception in a hangar at the airport before departing on a celebration flight. Talk about being “plane crazy!”
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Bunn
His wife and new family are very supportive of his aviation endeavors and take advantage by going on many trips. He is proud of the fact that a step-son is interested in flying and may go into a career in aviation.
Dennis is very humble about the opportunities he has in flying by saying, “I sure wish to hang onto this airplane for a long time. This aircraft has provided a lot of fun for my family.” Personally I learned from Dennis that we need to take time to step back, count our blessings, which of course includes flying.
What makes achieving the Gold Level of Operation Fly NC that much more special is that Dennis is the first pilot from the Wayne Executive Jetport (KGWW), Goldsboro, NC to complete the highest level of the program. I couldn’t think of a worthier pilot for this accomplishment.
About the author:
TC Freemanhas been flying since he was a teenager and is now an aviation speaker and author. Being employed as an Aviation Safety Specialist for state government, he has a passion for spreading the thrill of flying just for the fun of it via the website, www.WingsOfun.com.