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Erik the Pilot Update

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Langa Air in St.Louis closed its doors unexpectedly leaving its students and instructors grounded. This is an update about one of their former students who is still on the path towards becoming an airline pilot. Read the first part of this story at A Warning to Prospective Airline Pilots

“There use to be a lot more going on here,” Erik the pilot spoke solemnly as we peered through a chain link fence at a completely deserted air strip.

Langa Air Abandoned

Langa Air Abandoned

“There use to be all kinds of planes and people out there,” he continued as he pointed out to the abandoned tarmac and reminised about the fun he use to have at his flight school. “We use to all sit out there hanging out, picking on each other, and just shooting the shit. It was a lot of fun.”

“Talking about airplanes and flying?” I chimed in.

“Yeah, talking about flying,” Erik scoffed with sarcasm.

Erik in front of Langa Air

Erik in front of Langa Air

Erik’s dream of becoming a pilot hit an iron wall of turbulance as his flight school, Langa Air, closed its doors without any warning. The students and instructors arrived one day to find their school shut down and a note on the door that basically told them to continue their flight instruction elsewhere — to go shit in their hats.

“That day we all just sat out here drinking beer,” Erik spoke of that ominious day as he pointed to a small yard in front of the former flight school’s now bolted closed door. “There was nothing else for us to do.”

But, as it worked out, Erik the Pilot was one of the lucky students at Langa Air. He completed his grad ride and written exam for his commercial pilot’s license a week before the school closed its doors. Now he only needs to take a final check ride to secure the rating.

The only think that Erik may lose out on is money — around $10,000 — though the flight school has notified his loan providers and a debt forgiveness initiative may be enacted. He has his flight records. Now he only needs to find another school to continue his training — now he only needs to pack up his life and move to wherever it is that he decides to continue his dream.

“Maybe Florida,” he said with a shrug.

I looked around his apartment. He had a big screen TV. A stack of St.Louis Blues season tickets sat on a coffee table. His St.Louis anchored girlfriend texted his cell phone. It is sometimes difficult for a dream to find the inertia to move a life.

“Planes use to buzz all around here with students training,” Erik spoke with wide open eyes, “now there is silent.”

We looked out the window.

Erik the Pilot will fly again.

Someday I know that I will board a flight and hear the voice of my best friend come over the intercom.

Learn to fly sign

Learn to fly sign

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Filed under: Air Travel, Friends

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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