Learning It Is Never Too Late to Take to the Air
In the fall, Barbara Harris-Para, a local certified flight instructor, began teaching the ground portion of "Private Pilot" class at Sandhills Community College.
There she met the 11 individuals who had decided that they wanted to become private pilots. Usually students learn the theory of flight before taking lessons in an actual aircraft.
"Through the course, I began teaching four of my ground students at the Moore County Airport in its Cessna 172," she says. "Students ranged in age from 21 up to and including an 80-year-old fellow who had flown years ago."
In fact, Michael Mazza started flying Aug. 17, 1957, with Edward Ferrier, a certified flight instructor at Zahn's Airport in Amityville, Long Island, N.Y. He was flying J-3 Cubs through Dec. 5, 1959.
"I flew to Richmond County Airport on Staten Island as a cross country in April 1959, as well as a cross country to New Jersey to an airport along the New Jersey Turnpike," he says. "The Cub was the basic trainer and had a tail wheel instead of the more modern tricycle gear aircraft of today."
Mazza decided it was high time to complete his lessons even though more than 50 years had passed.
"Now to look at Mike you would think he was much younger than his years, spry, quick-witted, and eager to learn," says Harris-Para.
A few weeks ago Mike achieved one of his goals to "solo" the Cessna, which he has done three times at Moore County.
"Now comes the harder part, going on cross-countries first with the instructor and then solo," says Harris-Para.
All pilots are required to pass a medical exam.
"Mike has a valid medical, so he has been found fit by the FAA to fly an aircraft," Harris-Para says. "His next goal is to complete his practical training in the plane, get his written exam out of the way, and go on to the final examination."
Marra moved to Moore County from Brooklyn in 1992, took up the game of golf, and does his flying around his scheduled golf games. He worked in television for Channel 5, which is Fox News, starting first as a cameraman and then moving into the videotaping section, and finally as a supervisor.
He met his wife Mary in 1956 while working for Belock Instruments, a company making fire control equipment for the U.S. Navy. The two are active individuals going to FirstHealth Fitness Center as well playing golf.
Will Mary fly with Mike?
"That is still being determined," he says.
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