After 40 years of flying, Chris Pirrmann has seen a lot, both literally and figuratively.
In willing his small aircraft forward thousands of feet above the Georgia soil, the man behind Silverwing Flight Service gets to do as a job what many kids can only dream of. So great is the thrill of flying, in fact, that Pirrmann has dedicated his time to teaching the fundamentals of aviation to any who wish to learn, and it’s apparent that the seasoned pilot still loves flying as much as he did the day he started.
“Ever since I was 10 or 11 years old, I’ve always loved airplanes and aviation,” said Pirrmann from a conference room inside the Baldwin County Airport. “I’m originally from Cincinnatti, and with it being a bigger city we had several airports there and a good bit of activity. I went to the airport and took an introductory lesson … and started taking lessons from there.”
Since receiving his pilot’s license in 1995, Pirrmann has certainly made full use of it. In his capacity as owner and sole instructor of Silverwing, the pilot offers comprehensive sport pilot training and rental of his own plane, an Ercoupe 415C. Introduced as an official class by the FAA in 2003, a sport pilot is a step below a private pilot and requires less money and financial investment for certification. While sport licenses carry certain restrictions on the number of passengers and conditions a pilot can fly in, Pirrmann said it is a much easier way for average people to get into aviation.
“I teach pilots up to the sport pilot level, and I also have my airplane available for rental: anybody who has a sport pilot license and in a few hours can get checked out on my airplane, and once they’re done they can come here and rent it and fly it themselves,” he said.
While it certainly takes a great deal of trust to let someone borrow your car, let alone an airplane, Pirrmann has taken his offer to train pilots a step further. Rather than limiting his business to just the Milledgeville area, the Silverwing instructor uses his greatest asset to travel directly to his clientele.
“One thing I do that’s somewhat different is by virtue of the fact that the population in the area I operate is fairly Spartan,” he said. “It’s not feasible for someone in Swainsboro, for example, to drive to Milledgeville to take a flying lesson. So, what I do is offer the service where if we can schedule two hours or more for the day for that person, I will take the plane to their airport. I charge for just one way, which is generally about an hour, and that way it’s more convenient for them and it gives me access to a wider range of people.”
In flying his plane to the dozens of local airports around Georgia, Pirrmann is taking advantage of what is a relatively little-known fact. Although many people, even in rural parts of Middle Georgia, live a short drive away from a local airport, the Silverwing instructor said there are more than a few people who are unaware of this fact. In order to promote the cause of aviation in Baldwin county, the veteran pilot is organizing a “Fly-In,” or a meet-up of aviation enthusiasts not dissimilar to a motorcycle rally, scheduled for May 13 at the Baldwin County Airport.
“Currently, at a lot of these [local] airports, there’s very little outreach to the community as far as having them come out to the airport,” he said. “It wouldn’t necessarily be for an air show but just a gathering of planes, maybe some antique cars and some type of festival where people can come in, know they’ve got an airport and be exposed to the different types of planes.”
After 40 years of flying, Pirrmann has certainly picked up some tricks of the trade along the way. For anyone in Milledgeville or Middle Georgia wishing to get into aviation either as a hobby or as a career, one could do much worse than Silverwing Flight Service.
For more information on Silverwing Flight Service, call Chris Pirrmann at 478-234-2737.