Ever since James Howard was a little boy, he has been fascinated with flight.
“I remember camping when I was a teenager and looking up to see a sailplane flying overhead,” says Howard. “I asked my dad where they came from, and he told me it was the Chilhowee Gliderport. The very next weekend, he drove me to the very same gliderport for my first lesson.”
After that first flight lesson, Howard was hooked and spent every spare minute he had mowing lawns and taking on other odd jobs so that he could raise money to fly. Add to that the fact that flying at an early age differentiated Howard from his peers, and there was no turning back.
“To be totally transparent, I didn’t make the best grades in school, and I felt like aviation set me apart from other students. Aviation made me feel special as a kid,” says Howard. “When you fly, the skies are yours, and you can fly anywhere in the world.”
Over the years, Howard has co-owned everything from a Piper Cherokee 140 and Cessna 172 to a Schweizer SGS-2-33, and each of them has sported the name Glamorous Christy. The name draws inspiration both from his wife Christy, as well as one of Howard’s all-time heroes, Chuck Yeager, whose Bell X1 was named Glamorous Glennis.
Naming his aircraft after his wife isn’t the only way Howard’s passion for aviation seeps into his relationships. He also proposed to Christy under the wing of a plane and notes that flying is rarely a solo endeavor. Instead, Howard uses his piloting skills as a way to bond with family and friends and expose first-time flyers to the sensation you can only get from soaring through the sky in a small aircraft.
Howard also uses his ability to pilot a plane for good and has set numerous flight records to benefit the likes of Children’s Hospital at Erlanger and the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee.
“My daughter and I even flew to Missouri once to rescue an injured crow named Oli Kai, who is now an ambassador at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center,” says Howard. “Regardless of whether the flight is for business, pleasure, or something in between, there’s nothing like hopping in an airplane when the air is cool and crisp, and you can take off just before the sun breaks over the horizon.”