LEESBURG — Getting a pilot’s license and a drivers license back-to-back is a rare occurrence for most young people, but the accomplishment kicked off decades of safe flying for David Taisch, 68.
The Tavares retiree recently earned the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot award given for professionalism, skill and aviation expertise over 50 years of safe flying. Since 2003, only about 3,000 U.S pilots have been presented with the award by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Taisch said he wanted to buy a boat when he was young, but his parents were against the plan — he had lost his right eye in a boating accident at the age of 5.
Earned pilot’s license at 16
“I remember when I was 15, I knew I could fly. I am very proud to have received this, but wish I wasn’t old enough to have done so,” Taisch said.
Taisch first soloed at age 16 and earned his pilot’s license at 17.Though his career led him into manufacturing clothing in Illinois, he never stopped flying. He has accumulated 6,400 flight hours in 37 different aircraft. Since 2005, Taisch has flown 118 missions for Angel Flight Southeast, based at the Leesburg International Airport and he also is active in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles flight program.
Giving back to community
Along with his wife Ruth, 67, who also is a pilot, the two transport those who require repetitive medical treatments or organ transplants elsewhere, or are victims of abuse or natural disasters. The Taisches own a seaplane and a Mooney M-20M Ovation, a single-engine craft. David Taisch also serves with SouthWings, a nonprofit conservation organization that uses pilots to provide aerial education about conservation efforts across the Southeast.
“We feel so fortunate to be able to give back to the community in this way and do good work rather than just enjoying it privately,” Taisch said.
Taisch is the founder of the “Florida Mooney Lunch Group,” composed of area pilots who own Mooney aircraft and fly to different Florida airports for lunch. About seventy members celebrated the group’s 10th anniversary last month at an awards luncheon in Leesburg. A representative of the FAA safety team presented Taisch with a certificate and a lapel pin.
Flying a ‘magic carpet ride’
“Fifty years of contributing to aviation is an amazing accomplishment,” said Steve Purello, CEO of Angel Flight Southeast. “He is very involved and always willing to take missions, even at the last minute and is always willing to take people up for a flight.”
Taisch said he has flown over most of the United States — he just loves to fly.
“It is a magic carpet ride that takes you anywhere you want to go,” he said. “It is a tremendous experience and has been a major part of my life.”