Weaver Ready to Take Flight
Near the small Virginia town of Ottobine, nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, Andrew Weaver honed the skills of his life's passion.
June 2, 2010
Andrew Weaver, a senior at BC, played outfield for the West Virginia Miners.
BECKLEY — Near the small Virginia town of Ottobine, nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, Andrew Weaver honed the skills of his life's passion.
He was exposed to this pastime when he was 2, maybe 3 years old. His grandfather shared the love and worked with Weaver extensively on improving his prowess.
Weaver loves baseball, and the outfielder is more than ready for the West Virginia Miners to start their inaugural season on Thursday. But it was his other passion that also took him to great heights.
He loves to fly, and has been doing so for a long time.
"I grew up beside an airport, so I have been exposed to airplanes since I was about 2 or 3 years old," Weaver said Saturday. "My grandfather has airplanes and he has probably had them for about 30 years. My first flight was with my grandfather.
"I've been exposed to them for so long that it was just a matter of time before I got into it. It has just always been a passion — like baseball."
Most kids dream of getting their driver's license. Weaver has his, but the day he received his pilot's license remains one of the biggest in his 22 years.
"Like anything, with practice you get better," he said. "My first lesson, I can remember the butterflies. Of course, (his grandfather) let me take off by myself, but he was there at the controls, right beside me. It took two or three lessons before he let me land.
"It's hard to explain to people what it's like to be in control when you're on approach, but your first landing is something that you will never forget. It's a rush, and the exhilaration is hard to describe."
Of course, there are steps one must take before earning the privilege to fly an airplane. For instance, a pilot must pass an exam every two years in order to retain his license.
"You can start training actually before you get your driver's license, but you have to (wait to fly) solo after the age of 18," Weaver said. "It's been almost two years since I passed my last exam. I'm due for a biannual (exam) in about two months. Every two years you have to go up with a flight instructor and he tests you on proficiency."
Weaver learned to fly from his grandfather, who has a grass strip and hangar with two airplanes on his property.
"Every once in a while he would take me up, and when I was 12, 13, he first let me take (control)," Weaver said. "It's something I will never forget."
When it came time for Weaver to take his exam, his grandfather made sure he was ready.
"He made sure he flew with me before he let the instructor take me in and out, because the grass strip is pretty hard to access," Weaver said. "It's on a hill and it's pretty hairy if you've never been in an airplane before. He had his apprehensions, but as I gained experience, I got better at it."
The same can be said of baseball — his other passion. Weaver has put together a fine career at Bluefield (Va.) College. The Rams won the 2009 National Christian College Athletics Association championship and fell in the title game this year.
Now he's ready to make history as part of the West Virginia Miners, who will play their first-ever game Thursday on the road against the Slippery Rock (Pa.) Sliders. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
"Definitely anxious. Anxious is a good word," Weaver said. "We don't have all of our teammates here yet, and we'll be getting them within the next week. As more people roll in, the excitement is definitely starting to grow.
"It's great. I've only been around these guys three days, but I've got some good friends already. A lot of great guys."
Maybe he can take some of them for a whirl in his 1964 Cessna 150.
courtesy of Gary Fauber Register-Herald Assistant Sports Editor