Born in Huntsville, Alabama in the 1960s, I believe that I qualify for being the youngest member on the DC-3 Airways staff! Since Huntsville is the home of the NASA Rocket Center, I have been enthralled by flight from a very early age. And because my step-father was a helicopter mechanic in the military, I was darn near obsessed.

I joined the U. S. Army right out of high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I spent twelve years in the service as a Military Policeman, my third choice of jobs behind #1, pilot and #2, aircraft maintenance. Failing the colorblindness test disqualified me for #1 and #2. Don't misunderstand, I am not colorblind ... I just have a very difficult time with that test!

While stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, I became friends with Ed, who was the chief of maintenance and an instructor for the post's full-motion UH-60 Blackhawk simulator. This fuelled my hunger for flight even more! I usually met Ed right after the 3:00 to 11:00 PM swing shift, and he would set up the simulator for me to fly while he ran maintenance. For two years I "flew" from two to six hours every night. I logged over 400 hours of simulator time, and Ed assured me that I was the best non-pilot he'd ever seen!

I ended my military service in 1996 and moved to Eufaula, Alabama, where I currently live. I still enjoy flying, and it's my goal someday to acquire my private pilot license.

CessnaThe decision maker was my first flight in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. I spoke with the pilot several days in advance because I was a little nervous about going up. I also wanted to know if there was any chance he’d let me fly. I explained to him that I had more than 1,000 hours on Microsoft Flight Simulator logged and probably ten times that amount not logged. He was familiar with flight simulator and commented that if I could fly in flight simulator, the real world should be a piece of cake! The only thing he was worried about was the weather. It was cloudy with scattered storms and he was afraid I’d get sick in his aircraft. I assured him that I wouldn’t, and off we went! We chased a few storms around for about an hour with me at the controls, and after watching me fly and how I reacted to a simulated engine failure, he even let me land!


Watching the USAF Thunderbirds in Montgomery, Alabama. Just prior to the show, a group of enlistees received their Oath of Enlistment from the Thunderbirds pilots themselves!One of my favorite pastimes is attending airshows. I’ve seen the Blue Angels, The Thunderbirds, the Snowbirds, Golden Knights, Silver Knights, and a myriad of other demonstration teams all over the southeast United States. One of the most memorable events for me was watching the USAF Thunderbirds as they prepared to perform at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama. Just prior to beginning their demonstration, a group of roughly thirty new recruits marched onto the tarmac where they were administered their Oaths of Enlistment by the Thunderbirds themselves! What an honor that must have been for those young men and women!





Jim Daigneau and myself in the cockpit of Ship #41 in Atlanta, GAI enjoy visiting aviation museums when I get the chance. There’s one at Fort Rucker, Alabama that I’ve been to many times. The most recent trip was to the Delta museum in Atlanta, Georgia. I was the guest of our own Jim Daigneau, who took me on a guided tour of one of the nicest pieces I have ever seen; Delta’s Ship 41. It was restored to the point that the only way we were allowed on board is to wear booties over our shoes and white cotton gloves! There were even original copies of Life Magazine from the date the aircraft was originally delivered to Delta in the seat back pockets!

We also toured Delta’s main offices and training facilities, where we were allowed some seat time in several of Delta’s full-motion simulators. I know the word “jet” is sometimes considered a dirty word around DC-3 aficionados, but sitting in the captain’s seat in the 737 and 772 sims was quite an experience!

I enjoy flying just about any aircraft in flight simulator, including helicopters, but when I am not doing that my other hobbies include playing guitar, designing web sites, and anything NASCAR. I also enjoy spending time with my grandchildren, which usually leaves me exhausted at the end of the day! Where do they get the energy?!?

Andy Hatcher
Updated 25 June 2017

Andy Hatcher