TROY — It was onboard a commercial flight to Germany at the age of 11 where now 19 year-old Blaine Johnson fell in love with aviation.
That international flight sparked an interest — and now career — as well as several relationships in the local aviation field for the 2015 Troy High School graduate.
Johnson is enrolled as a student at Sinclair Community College studying aviation technology.
“Long story short, I went to Germany when I was 11 and that flight over got me excited about flight,” Johnson said. “Every since then I started volunteering at WACO (Historical Society) since I was 11. So eight years of volunteering, which is kind of neat to think about.”
Johnson recently was awarded the Cary Gum Scholarship from the National Aviation Heritage Area at the First Flight Ceremony at Wright Memorial on Dec. 17. The event also included NAHA officials, Ohio Rep. Rick Perales, and officials from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park at the Wright Brothers Memorial on Wright-Patterson for the annual wreath-laying ceremony. As part of the ceremony, Johnson was presented the $1,500 scholarship to use towards obtaining his pilot’s license.
“I was looking at different aviation scholarships and we came across this one. We have a lot of friends who serve on the NAHA board and they helped me getting set for that,” Johnson said.
He shared that his ultimate career goal is to earn his commercial pilot wings. Johnson said he plans on obtaining his private pilot’s license in the spring of 2016.
Johnson connected with many local community members while volunteering at WACO Historical Society where he helped with bi-plane rides, children’s camps and other outreach events. In exchange for his time, he had many WACO Historical Society members “take him under their wing” so he could learn more about the aviation industry and history —and, of course, flying lessons.
“I helped load people up for bi-plane rides, teach kid camps — a whole bunch of stuff — making rockets,” Johnson said. “My first actual flight was at WACO. They gave me a lot of flight lessons for helping out at WACO, which is really nice of them. I received a lot of encouragement from the people down there.”
Johnson is the son of Heather and Scott Johnson of Troy.
For more information about the WACO Historical Society and its variety of programs, visit www.wacoairmuseum.org.
Reach Melanie Yingst can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews