Keeping the dream of being a pilot alive


By Anne Kautzky

Special to The PREVIEW

While some dream of what they want to be or do as a young child, others discover new dreams later in life.

Chris Horley’s dream of flight started with an interest in airplane design and space in college.

In 1983, Horley went to work in Los Alamos, N.M., later retiring in 2012. It was in Los Alamos where Horley met the two friends that would propel him to fulfill the desire to take to the skies.

The first of these friends built and flew his own airplane. Horley took several flights from Los Alamos to Pagosa Springs with the other friend.

During the fall of 2013, Horley made the move to live full time in Pagosa Springs. Being retired and having a part-time consulting position, he then had the time to start work toward his goal of obtaining a private pilot license.

Horley enrolled in an accelerated private pilot program in Tucson, Ariz., near family. Horley spent two weeks with the program and was able to solo. He had hoped to return to Pagosa with a private pilot certificate, but the accelerated program was not for him.

During one of his earlier flights with friend to Pagosa Springs, Horley picked up a flyer from Stevens Field’s only flying club, San Juan Flyers LLC.

Then, upon returning to Pagosa Springs, Horley contacted the San Juan Flyers, inquiring about the process to finish his private pilot certificate.

Horley was able to continue his flight training over the summer, completing his flight training journey on Sept. 18.

“It was great to have the San Juan Flyers club available during my flight training,” Horley said. “The club makes it a more affordable means of getting a pilot’s certificate.”

One of Horley’s concerns during his training was the uncertainty of knowing if he could finish out the training. Turbulence was an obstacle for Horley.

“With the club’s structure, it was a way to find out if you have the passion and aptitude to learn to fly,” he said. He added his advice to anyone who has some hesitation in learning to fly: “Give it some time and you can overcome any obstacle. The more you fly, the more comfortable it becomes.”

How can you get started on your path to fulfill your dream of flight? San Juan Flyers has been giving Pagosa Springs pilots the flying experience they want at a lower price.

San Juan Flyers is a nonprofit alternative to aircraft rental, with two IFR single engine airplanes and its own hangar. The club also has three certified flight instructors and is able to offer both great training and convenient flying experiences into and out of Stevens Field KPSO.

Whether you are just getting started or already have your pilot’s certificates, San Juan Flyers can keep your dream of flight alive. Membership in the San Juan Flyers provides each member with exceptionally low flying costs, full flight insurance and educational opportunities at rates below current market rates.

For more information, call 731-3348 or email