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Hockessin Community News
  • Hockessin resident earns pilot license after age 70

  • Ever think you were too old to get your pilot's license? Think again.
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  • "It's the Red Baron," joked two maintenance men as they entered Barbara Welch's cottage at Cokesbury Village in Hockessin.
    While Welch admits that earning her pilot's license at the age of 71 was no easy feat, she had motivation to get it.
    "My husband Chuck was a pilot for 30 years, so I was always going with him," she said.
    It also didn't hurt that her husband owns his own plane – a Cherokee Piper Dakota 4-seater high performance plane, which they often take to their other home in the Pocono Mountains.
    Welch started her flying career with the pinch-hitter's course in 2008, which was approximately 20 hours of training that involved teaching her to take over a plane and successfully land it if something happened to the pilot.
    But the instructor told her husband that she had a knack for flying and that she was a natural, so she figured she would continue.
    At Ground School, there were three other students, one of which was a woman her age. Welch learned the basics of aerodynamics, engine performance, navigation, airplane instrumentation, and more.
    After five months of Ground School and a written exam came flight training, at the New Garden Flying Field in Toughkennamon, Pa.
    It took Welch a total two years to get her pilot's license, and since then, she and her husband travel when the weather is good to the Poconos and sometimes as far as southwest Florida.
    "We like to get in the plane for an hour and a half, stop and have lunch and get fuel, then get back in the plane to get to our destination," she said.
    She said the studying and the training to get her license was hard work, but she would never discourage anyone from trying.
    "It makes the most sense if you have a real reason," she said.
    Welch said her next adventure will most likely keep her grounded: "I plan on slowing down a bit until September. I'm going to cool it for a while and catch up on things," she said.
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