It’s a gorgeous, unreal day over Madras with the high desert canyons collapsing into the rolling expanses of sage and brittlebush, and Tanner Steele is at the helm of a Cessna 172. The pack of dials and gauges before him blink and spin in a language he has come to learn. There’s the airport ahead. He banks. Mount Jefferson slides off his left wing. Mount Hood looms straight ahead. A sign in the cockpit reminds him to behave. No spins. No aerobatics. Steele, a Central Oregon Community College student enrolled in the school’s two-year professional pilot program, is calm and focused; just a red-headed twenty-year-old a thousand feet in the sky. Me? I’m getting queasy.
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