Continuing a family tradition

More than 30 years ago, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) taught his son Perry to fly in the family’s 1954 Grumman Tiger. Perry’s first cross-country flight after he soloed was to Oshkosh, his dad sitting proudly in the seat beside him.

Fast forward to this year’s Oshkosh and Inhofe, a regular at Oshkosh no matter what is going on in Washington, D.C., keeps looking at his watch. He’s waiting for the arrival of the family’s Grumman, this time piloted by his grandson, Cole, who soloed just three weeks before the big show. In the family tradition, Cole was taught to fly by his father at Riverside Airport in Tulsa.

“He’s flying up here in the same Grumman Tiger with his dad sitting next to him,” Inhofe said, unable to contain a smile.

Perry Cole and James InhofeMaking his first landing at Oshkosh was “exhilirating,” said 16-year-old Cole, who noted that it was also his first-ever short approach.

“I’ve seen my dad fly in here for eight years straight,” Cole said. “This is the first time I actually got to fly into Oshkosh.”

Like so many things in life, trying to describe how he felt as he navigated the Oshkosh skies was difficult, the teenager said.

“You hear people talking about how much fun it is,” he said. “But when you do it the first time, it’s a feeling you can’t replicate.”

He said he thought it was going to be “cool,” but “that doesn’t even begin to compare to when you actually fly in.”

“It’s like the first time you ever tried dessert,” he said. “You just want to do it again.”

Cole plans to continue in the family tradition, earning his private pilot certificate, then adding on as many licenses and ratings as he can.

Looking farther into the future, he said he also plans to teach his son to fly in the same plane one day.


  1. Molly Rapert says

    So happy that I don’t have to face the criticism of these folks commenting above – good grief, did they TOTALLY miss the point of this story!!! Guess they aren’t used to reading positive things about teenagers! Wow! I am so impressed Cole! Congratulations on (1) taking the initiative to tackle a pilot’s license at your age, (2) to invest time with your family (3) to be willing to express your comments in an interview, and (4) to represent your generation in such a positive manner! No doubt you would pass this love of flying on to sons AND daughters alike. Well-done, Cole – I’m certain all the majority of people reading this article, at least the ones with positive outlooks on life, are impressed with your accomplishments and proud of what you have done!

  2. Larry Meal says

    You guys are right..When I first read the article,the first thing that caught my eye was the 1954 date.I went to work for Jim Bede in 1964 and we were trying to certificate the BD-1 or as it was later called the Gruman Yankee..The subject aircraft didn’t come along for a long while..But it’s a beauty and was a large improvement in aircraft construction methods..Our biggest obstacle in getting the BD-1 approved was the FAA. They just didn’t understand aluminum bonding, rather than rivets.

  3. Check your Notams before you fly says

    Isn’t this guy who almost killed some construction workers by landing on a closed runway? I’d never fly with him.

  4. Flyingfrenchman says

    Cole, what if it turns out that you have a girl instead of a boy? I suspect you will probably teach her to fly as well. Everyone is correct about the year of the Tiger. It wasn’t introduced until the 70s.

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