Lee Ball / The Daily Iberian
Brian Hayes pulls out a fuel line to fill an airplane on Thursday at Pelican Aviation at Acadiana Regional Airport.
Brian Hayes said he remembers laying on the ground as a 4-year-old as his father tried to stop the bleeding where a lawn mower had just sliced into his son’s arm. Hayes said he knew then his hand was gone and he accepted it.
Hayes, 26, originally from Broussard, said his dad was mowing the lawn and Hayes decided he was going to play a game and run in big circles around the zero-turn mower. As the young Hayes came up behind his father, the mower turned, Hayes tripped and the blade sliced through his forearm and tore into his ribs.
“I still remember it like it was yesterday,” he said.
Losing his arm hasn’t done much to slow Hayes down. Instead, he finds himself pushing the limits of what others often think would be possible for him.
“If you tell me I can’t, I’ve got to find out if I can,” Hayes said.
About three months ago, Hayes applied for a job at Pelican Aviation and convinced the supervisor to give him a shot.
“I was skeptical,” flight line and fuel manager Al Landry said. “I said, well, let’s give him a chance.”
Landry said Hayes obviously has to work harder than the average person, but he’s kept up.
“Everything I threw at him, he handled it,” Landry said.
Beau Landry said he’s known Hayes since middle school and Hayes has always been a hard worker.
“When he goes out there, it makes me see anything’s possible,” Beau Landry said. “He motivates me to work harder.”
Hayes said he played football, baseball, soccer and was involved in martial arts for several years.
When it came time to pursue a career path, Hayes said he always preferred “hands-on” jobs. He said he’s worked welding, laying asphalt, landscaping and operating heavy construction equipment.
Still, he said every job is a challenge.
“You’re always trying to figure out what you’re going to do,” he said, “how you’re going to do it.”
Hayes said he’s always been a laid back guy, preferring to keep his adventurous side satisfied by hiking across the country and outfitting a sleeve to attach to his kayak paddle. But Hayes also has a 1-year-old son with another child due in November.
Now he’s thinking long-term.
Hayes said he’d like to begin pursuing his pilot license within the next year and move his family to Alaska where he would like to work as a bush pilot, flying to and from areas that are otherwise inaccessible.
He said he recently acquired an old school bus and will be transforming it into an RV to take the trip.
Building the skills he would need to pilot in extreme conditions and living in remote Alaska would keep him on his toes, which is how it likes it.
“I guess I get bored with slow things,” he said. “I need something to keep me interested.”
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