Sky is the limit for Kingman grandmother
On a clear day, Pat Sanders can be found in the skies above Kingman, piloting her own plane, a four-passenger Cessna 174.
"Who would have thought I would be in the middle of the desert flying my own plane?" said Sanders, who is from Houston, Texas.
The grandmother of three took her first supervised solo flight Monday.
"It was an incredible experience.
I piloted the plane myself while I stayed in contact with my instructor on the ground," she said.
"She wasn't as nervous as I was," her husband Phil Sanders, said with a laugh.
Pat said she has always been somewhat inhibited – up until about a year ago when she married Phil, a veteran aviator, and moved to Kingman.
Also the great-grandmother of three, Sanders, 60, was living in Houston when she met Kingman resident Phil Sanders two years ago while he was in Houston caring for his ailing parents.
"We had so much in common," Phil said.
"Pat had been caring for her mother before she passed away, so she was able to help me get through a very difficult time.
We became real good friends."
When the couple married and settled in Kingman a year ago, Phil introduced Pat to the activity he loves – piloting an airplane.
Taking off from Kingman Airport in a rented plane, they would fly to Laughlin or Phoenix.
It wasn't long before Pat was hooked.
"It was a lot of fun," Pat said.
"When Phil and I flew, I would hold the yolk from the passenger seat.
I just wanted to be able to land it in case something ever happened to him."
Enter Dave Kornmeyer, a flight instructor at Discovery Flight School in Kingman.
A licensed pilot since 1989, and an instructor for eight years, Kornmeyer said Pat is the fourth grandmother he has taught to pilot a plane.
"The other three went on to get their license and I suspect Pat will too," he said.
The Sanders' became so enthralled with cruising the skies that they decided to invest in their own plane, a Cessna 174 that they purchased from Kornmeyer.
Pat said the couple spent almost as much money fixing up the plane as they did to buy it, and now they lease the plane back to the flight school for training.
"It gets in your blood, and you can't get it out," Pat said of flying a plane.
"On July 4rth we saw the fireworks from above.
It was spectacular."
They are members of the Kingman Aero Club and plan a trip to Phoenix soon.
They say they are cautious fliers and spend a lot of time making sure everything on the plane is in good working order.
"As long as you exercise good judgment and maintain your plane you will be okay," Pat said.
"Every time I fly I check everything – the engine, tires and I tap the propeller because it rings true if there is no crack or knick in it."
Phil said he is always mindful of weather patterns and never takes chances, but added that if the he ever needed to land the plane in Arizona he would have options of where to bring it down.
"In the state of Arizona it is legal to land on the road if you don't impede the flow of traffic," he said.
"But I hope that doesn't happen anytime soon."