Pilot introduces East Texas children to air travel

BySharita J. Wilson

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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) – Families arrived at the A.L. Mangham JR. Regional Airport to meet pilot Clay Bandy, the founder of a non-profit organization based in Texarkana.

The pilot of 52 years created 4 States Youth Flyers in August of 2021. He said it was all about the kids and providing a unique experience. The organization serves Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

“Many of these young people have never been at the airport or in an airplane, commercial or whatever,” Bandy said. “So just for them to get up there and allay any fears some of them may have had. So here they have a chance to get up and see the earth from a different perspective.”

Before getting inside the plane, Bandy explained different parts of the aircraft and proper inspections.

Families and children in groups of three climbed onto his personal plane, a Cessna 182 Q. They buckled up, placed their headsets on, and took off. They got to enjoy a 15- to 20-minute plane ride where they experienced an aerial view of Nacogdoches. After the flight was done, the children got their own certificates for flying.

“It was really fun. But when you go up … it was like, your ears would pop,” said 11-year-old Riley Moore after her first flight.

Clyde Partin Monument Company of Cushing partnered with the organization to make the flights free for the three-day event. They have since signed up 120 participants of all ages.

“You don’t normally get this sort of opportunity in East Texas. This is something new and exciting that they normally wouldn’t have done, ” said owner O.T. Allen.

According to Allen, they have filled up all open spots for their last day on June 10th but are excited to bring the event back next summer.

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