|Taylor DeLey is flying solo around the country in this RV-4 he built with his dad. Photo by Mariano Rosales
Taylor De Ley’s summer vacation plans don’t look like those of most new high school graduates; it may still involve plenty of sunscreen—but there are also loads of sectionals and avgas involved.
De Ley, 17, of Yorba Linda, California, is about one-third of the way through a solo flight around the perimeter of the United States flying the RV-4 he built with his dad, Luc, a private pilot.
His trip includes stops in the nations four corners—Friday Harbor, Washington; northern Maine; Key West, Florida; and back to Los Angeles.
Fresh off a stop in Grand Forks, North Dakota, he landed at Wittman Regional Airport Sunday around 4 p.m., his first visit ever to EAA AirVenture.
De Ley’s parents were worried about him flying in to the congested airspace, but other than a bit of weather on the way he said his flight went just fine.
“There were seven planes ahead of me and about 10 behind,” De Ley, EAA 1058541, said. “I heard I came in at the busiest hour.”
Most of all, De Ley said he was amazed at how many airplanes there are and how big AirVenture is. “The scale is unreal,” he said.
This week, De Ley hopes to meet one of his aviation heroes. “I’m set up to meet Sean Tucker,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to that.”
De Ley has been flying since he was 13, when he started flying gliders. He soloed at 14 and earned his glider certificate on his 16th birthday, the same day he soloed his family’s Cessna Cardinal.
On his 17th birthday, he earned his private pilot certificate with 230 hours in his logbook.
He’s logged time in more than 30 types, including a Boeing Stearman, de Havilland Beaver, and Beech 18, but his favorite was a Super Cub. “If I could own only one, it would be a Super Cub or Cub,” he said.
Four or five years ago, he came up with the idea to fly around the country to promote youth aviation while working toward his long-term goal of becoming a professional pilot.
De Ley plans to stay at AirVenture until Friday, when he’ll take off for Detroit, Michigan, and work his way to northern Maine. Look for his RV-4 in the Homebuilt area; it’s the green one with big red stars on each side. “You can’t miss it,” De Ley said.