SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-TIMES
Kevin Hathaway grew up in Manteo right next door to the airport. His house was directly under the flight path for Runway 5.
When he was around 9-10 years old, his dad bought a 1946 Aeronca Chief airplane. His father rebuilt it and started learning to fly.
What started as a hobby that would eventually turn into a business. His friend, who was teaching his dad to fly, was a retired airline pilot who also owned an aerial photography company.
The teacher would take phoyos of all the rental properties on the beach for various realty companies. They would use these pictures to help vacationers locate their rental cottage.
Kevin’s dad would let him tag along on these “missions.”
And ultimately, Hathaway became hooked on all aspects of flight. His father would let the younger Hathaway assume the controls.
Eventually, Kevin became good enough to hold the airplane in steep banks while his dad would shoot the photos. The younger Hathaway would steer mostly by using the instruments since he could barely see over the dash.
At 13 years old, Hathaway got a job as a ground crew member making the banners that were towed up and down the beach by planes advertising restaurants and other activities.
He would ride his bike to the airport every day, work 8 a.m. until probably 5 p.m., often alone. It was hot and grueling work for very low pay. Mind you, he was 13, but he was around airplanes, which is what he wanted. He did this job mostly all the way through high school with the exception of one summer running a shuttle boat for a parasail company.
When he was 14, he did his first solo flight in a glider. Hathaway says it was quite a feeling at 14 years old to fly an airplane alone.
When he was 15, he started learning in earnest in airplanes with engines and did a solo a little after his 16th birthday in the motorized plane.
The original goal was to solo on his birthday, but because of bad weather, he did not do it done until about a week after his 16th birthday.
At 37 years old, Hathaway’s path to becoming a commercial pilot has been a long and winding one with many experiences. However, the best experience he has is flying solo over the Crystal Coast.
In a nutshell, Kevin says the view is “breathtaking.” He has spent three quarters of his life flying up and down the barrier Islands of North Carolina and says it never gets old. The Crystal Coast is probably one of the prettiest and most diverse areas on our coast, and from the ground, it’s often difficult to recognize that.
If you take off from Beaufort and fly east toward Cape Lookout, the route will take you out over Harkers Island, and if one looks to the left, is an expansive amount of farm land that many will never see from the road.
To most people, the sky is the limit, but to Kevin Hathaway and those who love aviation, the sky is home.