Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pilot 'paid to have fun every day': Air Choice One • Mason City Municipal Airport (KMCW), Iowa

Pilot Scott Miehe watches from the conference room of the Mason City Municipal Airport as a ground crew member refuels his Cessna Grand Caravan. He said the planes are roomy, comfortable and handle well in the windy conditions often experienced in the Midwest.

MASON CITY | Air Choice One (ACO) is just getting started in Mason City, but the airline already is creating jobs and attracting new residents.

Scott Miehe
Pilot Scott Miehe, a Wisconsin native most recently from Oshkosh, has been spending his off hours looking for a place to call home in North Iowa. His wife, Lacy, and daughters Peyton, 6, and Sawyer, 3, hope to relocate in January.

 “I’m just excited to join the community,” Miehe said, “to be a familiar face out here (at the Mason City Municipal Airport) and get to know the regulars who fly in and out.”

Miehe has been intrigued by flying for as long as he can remember. Yet his first plane trip, on a family vacation to Florida at age 8, left him somewhat unsatisfied.

“I was kind of disappointed we didn’t get to go upside down,” he recalled.

Despite the early attraction to the sky, Miehe initially pursued a career in analytical chemistry.

“It didn’t have the ‘it’ factor,” he admited. “The office didn’t have a very good view like (flying) does.”

Eventually, Miehe pursued aviation at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin, before working as a flight instructor.

After joining Air Choice One he underwent extensive training using a flight simulator exactly mimicking the Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft he is currently using.

“It was spot on,” he said of the simulator. “It was amazing.”

Prior to starting at Mason City, Miehe served the airport at Ironwood, Michigan, for ACO. 

On Nov. 17, ACO’s first business day in Mason City, the weather was unseasonably cold, snowy and blustery. Miehe said the company’s aircraft are well suited for the conditions.

“They’re big and comfy,” he said. “They’re warm in the winter, that’s for sure. It was windy out there today but we didn’t realize it was windy until we opened up the doors.”

Pilots typically fly one round trip from Mason City to Chicago each workday. That schedule was a key selling point for Miehe, who values time spent with his wife and daughters.

“It offers me the opportunity to be home seeing my family almost every night,” he said.

Once Miehe and his family are settled, he is looking forward to learning more about local recreational amenities. He noted he enjoys “hunting, fishing, biking, walking the dogs -- anything to get outside and off the couch.”

For now, however, Miehe is focused on helping ACO build a solid reputation in Mason City. He’s grateful for the enthusiasm and “typical Midwest charm” with which he and the airline have been welcomed.

“Everyone’s excited for us to be here, and I know we as a company are excited to be here as well,” Miehe said.

Above all, he’s looking forward to balancing a good family life with a career he truly loves.

“It’s unbelievable I get paid to go have fun every day,” Miehe said.

But not too much fun.

His childhood fantasies notwithstanding, Miehe promises squeamish travelers he has no intention of flying upside down during commercial trips.

“There are other aircraft that are better designed for that,” he said.

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