Why I Fly – Michael Cereno, Jet Linx St. Louis
How did I become interested in aviation? Good question! I believe I will blame it on my father’s line of work when I was very young. My father served in the United States Navy when I was born, and his service was on the aviation side. In those days, all sailors who were involved in aviation were called “brown shoes” because all sailors who served in the aviation side wore brown shoes with their uniforms versus black shoes in other areas of the Navy.
When I was old enough to remember, my father was stationed at Quinset Point Naval Air Station located in Quinset Point, Rhode Island. During the summer, we spent a lot of time at the base because it had a great beach for the personnel and their families. To get to the beach, we had to drive down a sandy road that passed by one of the hangars and ramp areas where numerous aircraft were always parked. During this period, the Navy still had many of the aircraft carriers built during World War II – one of which was stationed at the Quinset Point Air Station. The name of the carrier was the U.S.S. Leyte.
Even then, I knew I wanted to grow up and become a Naval Aviator and fly these aircraft.
When I told my father I wanted to be a Naval Aviator, he told me if I was serious about this path, I would have to earn a commission as a Naval Officer before I could go to Naval Flight School – that I would need to study hard and plan to go to Annapolis because that was where the Navy trained all of its officers.
I waited until I arrived in Pensacola, Florida to begin my pilot training. I still remember my first flight in a T34B Mentor built by Beechcraft and my instructor screaming at me over the intercom, “Right Rudder….Right Rudder….” Seventeen months later, I was awarded my wings of gold.
I do believe the Almighty has a sense of humor because I wanted to be a Naval Aviator flying Navy fighter jets – and I ended up spending the next four years flying transport helicopters in the Marine Corps. I have been flying ever since.
The Navy taught me to fly airplanes and helicopters and I learned to fly each at night, in formation, on basic instruments and advanced instruments, and also do cross country flying in them. After I left the service, I earned my multi engine fixed wing rating, multi engine instrument and ATP rating. I’ve been committed to aviation ever since.