22rd August 2013 — It was, as usual, a sunny day in Sarasota, Florida. Another flying lesson was about to commence. Student pilot Amy Korinek paused from her preflight check of the Grumman American Tiger to stare up into the brilliant blue sky. Above, cottony clouds floated leisurely past — seemingly just beyond reach. The vista before her was so beautiful. Amy smiled slightly, knowing that in mere minutes she would be up among the fluffy white vapor and cruising above the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Since she was a child Amy wanted to travel the world. Getting places far away seemed a barrier. Ms. Korinek commented, “I never thought I would be able to get there myself!”
Amy, hailing originally from Louth, Lincolnshire, England, is one of many British-born individuals to train in the Sunshine State. Between 1938 and 1945, thousands of the United Kingdom’s pilot candidates came to Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) and War Training Service (WTS) schools. Many of these facilities were within the former British possession of Florida to earn their wings.
During 2003, Ms. Korinek’s urges to fly first began when she relocated to Enterprise, Alabama Her husband Adam was in the U.S. Army and training to become a helicopter pilot. Amy explained, “Although Adam was training to be a helicopter pilot, he also received his fixed wing license with a private flight school in the local area. We often rented a light plane and visited new places at every opportunity.” One of her favorite destinations was Tangier Island, which lies in Chesapeake Bay.” Ms. Korinek added to the foregoing. “Knowing that “we had arrived at a place accessible only by air or sea was incredible. Although Adam would fly the airplane I always got to sit back and admire the view.”
Amy’s husband became a highly experienced U.S. Army pilot. During his military career Adam flew many important and dangerous combat sorties in Kiowa Warriors. His tours of duty encompassed many months, and during the separations Ms. Korinek began to think more about flying. Amy longed to join Adam in the cockpit, although she knew it was not possible during deployments.
After a few years of renting planes and dreaming of owning their own aircraft, the couple “finally decided to take the plunge.” Amy explained, “After a long search we bought a Grumman American Tiger.” She noted the following observation: “My husband was in love with it at first sight.” The engine produces 180 horsepower, and the low wing 4-seater rolled out of the factory in 1979. “She has lots of personality,” Amy remarked. After purchasing the Tiger, Ms. Korinek explained that their “adventures became exponentially more frequent.”
A recurring concern eventually generated an unexpected incentive to learn to fly. Amy realized that if anything ever happened to her husband while they were flying she may not be able to land the airplane. Ms. Korinek said, “We would both be in a lot of trouble.” Due to this fact, Adam suggested his wife take a short course specifically for people who know nothing about flying but might need the knowledge one day. Yet, Amy asked herself, “Why should I stop there? What in the world is stopping me from learning to fly? All of a sudden learning to fly made so much sense, and I found myself incredibly excited about it.” Amy continued, “After my first flight in the left seat I was hooked. I had no idea I would love flying so much. I’ve been on countless flights with my husband, but to fly myself is a remarkable feeling.”
Ms. Thomas recalls her father’s passion for flying and the Spitfire. In fact, Annie vividly remembers the time her father took her up during her childhood in a Spitfire Tr.9. The Tr.9 model or mark was a post-war twin-seat trainer version. Annie likes to think the thrill of that flight mysteriously passed to Amy. Referring to her grandfather’s service, Ms. Korinek remarked, “I often think of my grandfather flying in the Second World War. The honor it must have been to be selected as a Spitfire pilot for the Royal Air Force! The thought awes me. There is something special about being a pilot, and it makes me very proud to follow in his footsteps.”
Unlike Amy, her grandfather learned to fly at RAF St Eval (Saint Eval). As an aside, Amy’s mother expounded upon his love of flying. At the St Eval aerodrome William reportedly had the best time of his life. As per Sergeant Pilot Jeacock’s wish, Annie’s sisters and brothers took their parent’s ashes to the parish of St Eval in Cornwall, which is adjacent to the remains of the airfield. “They still have his wreath in the Church. My sister placed it when they went to take his ashes,” stated Ms. Thomas.
Amy stated that she is “the type of person who loves to learn new things, and I cannot stop craving new knowledge. I already know that, once I earn my Private Pilot license, I will want to pursue an advanced rating, perhaps a complex endorsement. One of which may be a multi-engine rating.”
With the walk around checks completed, Amy and her certified flight instructor climbed into the tricycle aeroplane, strapped in, and began the pre-start checklist. “I am learning to fly in Florida,” stated Amy. “Although the weather can be temperamental, these challenges will help me to become a more careful, cautious and adaptable aviator.”
Toward the end of the interview Amy Korinek commented on the difference between flying as a passenger and a pilot. “There is a difference,” she explained, “when flying as a pilot compared to a passenger. When looking out of the cockpit through the windscreen, one senses a freedom that one cannot otherwise fathom. Not only are the views amazing, but one also gets to admire them from a standpoint that not many people have the opportunity to experience. It seems like time can move so fast in our everyday lives, and life can often feel overwhelming. But looking down upon the expanse below one can step back and admire the world in which we live.”
And with each flight Ms. Korinek personally reaffirms what two noteworthy individuals expressed through writing. The psalmist recorded (Psalm 55:6, Authorised Version) the following thought: “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” During December 1941, Pilot Officer John Gillespee Magee, Jr., was an American Spitfire pilot serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He recorded these timeless words: “And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”
The author (John Stemple) sincerely thanks Ms. Amy Korinek for her cooperation during the preparation of this article. He also thanks Ms. Annie Thomas for providing information and her thoughts.
Sources and Suggested Readings
Bell OH-58 Kiowa Warrior
Civilian Pilot Training Program
Grumman American Tiger
Louth, Lincolnshire, England
Parish of St Eval
Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., & High Flight (NMUSAF Factsheet)
RAF St Eval