Passing it on

Deb McFarland is the proud owner of Lester, a 1948 Luscombe 8E, and part of the “Front Porch Gang” at Pickens County Airport in Georgia.

Red Bouchie was born and raised in Oneida, S.D., and came from a long line of farmer-ranchers. In the days after World War II, everybody in those parts had a J-3, and he spent his youth in the backseat of such a Cub pestering coyotes.

Those early days were influential. In 1956, while in Fullerton, Calif., he soloed a Tri-Pacer and took his check ride in a Cherokee 140. He considered a flying career as a California highway patrolman, but ended up in heavy construction where he had the opportunity to rent different airplanes at different locations while working across the vast American west. He can still recall his most memorable flight, a flying tour of the Grand Canyon in 1960. At one point, he owned a Super Cub that allowed him to enjoy personal flying while offering a workhorse needed for his pipeline company back in South Dakota.

Now retired in northern Georgia, Red has passed his love of flying to another generation, his grandson Theron. A couple of years ago, Red or “Papa” took Theron flying in a helicopter with owner and CFI David Clark. Theron was hooked and started lessons with Papa’s whole-hearted approval.

Those helicopter lessons began under the tutelage of David, owner of Sharp Mountain Aviation, a flight school at Cherokee County Airport in Canton, Ga. (47A). A flying fanatic, David is particularly fond of flying rotorcraft. Currently, Theron is flying the 190-hp Schweizer 300C that is available at the school.

Red Bouchie, Theron Bouchie and David Clark

Like Theron, David began flying at a young age because his father loved to fly, and as one rating in fixed wing led to another, after 2,300 hours he moved on to something he found addictive. It was five months from his first lesson in the helicopter to his CFI rating. Teaching “just happened,” he says, a natural progression of his love of flying. The flight school was an obvious extension of that progression. As a pilot, David understands his addiction and realizes it is smoldering in a lot of people. As a businessman, he sells it as that. No need to candy-coat it with justifications. He takes potential students on a free introductory flight and those rides, more times than not, sell themselves.

Along with Theron, who began lessons at 14, David currently has a fixed-wing student who is also 14. And these are not his first youthful students. Three years ago, he taught his own son, Ben, in the helicopter. The passion just keeps passing on from one generation to the next.

For Theron, flying the Schweizer is “exciting, fun, something new, different and never dull.” His friends think it’s cool. His teachers at school don’t know much about flying, but those that do think it is a great opportunity. Papa Red hopes these lessons lead to a career in the military, which is a family tradition, or some other aviation related career but, for now, Theron is not yet sure what he will do in the future. Like any teenager, he just wants to have fun.

After waiting for two years to reach his 16th birthday, Theron Bouchie finally soled on Feb. 27. On the outside, Papa thought it was a little scary to watch his grandson pilot a helicopter solo, but he did an excellent job, which Red assured was “not just a grandpa’s opinion.” On the inside, Theron was really nervous, but after he got up, “it was okay.” Landing without the weight of the instructor was a little different, he added.

Soloing has brought about a passion for the helicopter, and Theron encourages others to fly. He hopes to complete his cross-countries to Rome, Ga. (RMG) and Habersham County, Ga. (AJR) soon. When asked what he will be thinking on those flights, he smiled charmingly (a gesture that has surely sent many young female hearts aflutter) and said, “Not messing up.”

Both Theron and Red hope that he will be able to get both his rotorcraft and fixed wing licenses on his 17th birthday. That’s a plateful for a young man, but with such passion and encouragement, there is little doubt it will be done. When asked what he will do with those flying privileges, Theron is quick to say that he plans to fly his Papa. “He has faith in me,” he says, adding he really hopes to fly his mom, but “Mama may not.” For sure he will fly his friends and maybe try to impress his current girl.

Deb can be reached at

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