Friday, June 25, 2021

Wynnae Dyess, formerly a competitive ice-skater, now teaches people how to fly at the Baker City Airport (KBKE)

Wynnae Dyess 

Wynnae Dyess feels the most free in flight.

The 28-year-old flight instructor, who works for Baker Aircraft, the fixed base operator at the Baker City Airport, earned her pilot’s license in Driggs, Idaho, when she was just 17.

Originally from Jackson, Wyoming, Dyess lived in Idaho and at Mesa, Arizona, before moving to Baker City in June 2020.

“Going into school, I thought I was probably going to be an airline pilot,” Dyess said. “But now coming here to Baker, I’ve realized I really liked the small airplane general aviation stuff and the more personal connections I make.”

Growing up, Dyess said she was always around military aircraft, going to air shows and the Air Force Museum with her family, where she fell in love with vintage military aircraft.

She was also a competitive figure skater, and one day Dyess’ friend, who is a pilot, asked her if she would like to take a “Young Eagles” flight to Utah for a skating event.

“She let me take the controls and fly and I fell in love with it,” Dyess said. “And I just knew I wanted to keep pursuing that.”

As an instructor with Baker Aircraft, Dyess helps people who want their private pilot’s license learn the ins and outs of aviation. Every day she comes to work, meets her students and makes a game plan for the day.

She starts by teaching student pilots how to pre-flight an airplane — making sure the craft is airworthy.

They then fly for about an hour and work on whatever maneuvers are needed for a certain certificate or rating.

Some days Wynnae will take her students on flights to John Day or Pendleton. The training takes anywhere from 50 to 60 hours, depending on how quickly students digest the information and hone their skills until they’re ready for their initial solo flight.

“It’s so rewarding because you get to see the students’ first time soloing an aircraft by themselves,” Dyess said. “When they take those controls, it’s a very proud moment as an instructor, to see them meet those accomplishments.”

Dyess’ favorite part of flying is seeing the country from an entirely different perspective than the ground. Sometimes the job is hard, she said, but it never feels like work because she loves flying so much.

On days when Dyess doesn’t have a student pilot to work with, she pursues another goal — obtaining her airplane mechanic’s license.

Dyess also wants to learn to fly helicopters and to further her education by learning everything she can about aviation.

No prior knowledge is needed for those who want to learn how to fly, she said. The most important attributes are a willingness to learn and to review the concepts over and over again to avoid mistakes. There are several factors that keep pilots on their toes, such as weather, landings and different air spaces.

A long-term goal for Dyess is to fly internationally in Africa and help deliver medical supplies. She also wants to do more charter and backcountry flights.

“I really love the freedom of flying,” she said. “It reminds me a lot of skating. You just go out there and you’re in your own little world. It’s a freeing experience.”

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