Get It While You Can, Says 70-Year-Old Team RV Crew Chief

Congratulations to Team RV Crew Chief Tony “Sleepy” Spicer who earned his Commercial Rating Thursday, August 12.   Tony intends to fly performances with Team RV, and this step is critical in that process.

Tony attended a formation clinic in Anderson, SC  last year and knew then that he wanted to fly formation with Team RV.   But in accordance with Team requirements, all pilot members must hold a Commercial Rating.   Tony figured it was too time consuming, too expensive, and perhaps just too hard to pursue, so he volunteered to provide ground support for Team RV, which is a much needed position at air shows.  “It didn’t take long to figure out that deep down I’d rather be flying with the Team than pumping smoke oil,” said Tony.    “So I ordered a Gleim manual and started studying.”

Tony passed the written test in June of this year, and in early July, plunged into “FAA Hell” gathering all the data on the flying time he would need including PIC time, cross-country, instrument, and night flying.  In the meantime, John Monnett, of Sonex Aircraft, asked Tony to get to Oshkosh early to help Sonex prepare for AirVenture.    Tony built the first Sonex airplane in the country, and for years he has displayed his plane at AirVenture and Sun ‘n Fun and he and John are close friends . .  so off to Oshkosh he went.   Charlie Plunkett, fellow Team RV member, said when Tony returned from Oshkosh “something just snapped and he was serious about getting his Commercial Rating.”   

Tony found that the closest flight school with a complex airplane was in Goldsboro,  NC , a two-hour drive from his home in Wilmington.  Fortunately, he could save half that time by flying his RV-3 back and forth.  

Nineteen days later, and after flying the Piper Arrow for 18.3 hours, Tony passed his check ride.

“It has been a long time since I have seen someone exhibit so much drive, determination, commitment, and effort in achieving a goal,” said Charlie.

Tony’s next goal is to get his FFI card. 

Tony said his favorite singer/songwriter is Steve Goodman, whose most famous song is City of New Orleans.    He also wrote You Better Get It While You Can, with the line, “From the cradle to the crypt it’s a mighty short trip, so you better get it while you can.”

“Being 70, I figured I better get busy.”