Veteran pilot retires after decades of service to military and community
A local veteran pilot has retired after decades of service to the nation and the community.
Kenneth “The Colonel” Sines, 84, has been flying since he served in the Army, starting in the 1960s. He served for 24 years, piloting helicopters and planes for 17 years.
Since 1992 he has been flying kids for free as part of the local chapter of the Young Eagles. In those 27 years, he has flown 2,155 kids in his fixed-wing plane.
Sines has a special reason for what he does.
“Taxpayers paid the way. I had 17 years of flying in the military, and I figure I owe something for the experience I had in the military,” he said.
As part of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Young Eagles is an international organization that aims to allow children ages 8-17 to experience flying for free. Volunteer pilots must meet certain requirements including training specific to the organization, and guardians of children that participate must sign a registration form before the flight.
The Chattahoochee Valley chapter of association offers free, 20 minute flights at Flightways Columbus to children. After the flight, the kids are given a log book to record their flight, and their names are put into the world’s largest log book, where they can look up their names and the name of the pilot that flew them.
According to Gary Brossett, president of the local chapter of the association, Chapter 677 has flown over 5,000 kids. That means Sines has flown nearly half of the kids that have gone through to Chattahoochee Valley Young Eagles program.
“He’s all about flying Young Eagles. We call it sharing the spirit of aviation,” Brossett said of Sines.
With his 2,155 flights through the Young Eagles, Sines retires being listed as No. 14 on national association’s list Pilot Century Club & Beyond. He has the highest ranking in Georgia.
“Every time you take a kid for a flight and let them experience the flying, you can tell from their faces that they really are enjoying it,” Sines said.
Although Sines won’t be flying with Young Eagles anymore, he said he will remain a volunteer and stay active in the Chattahoochee Valley chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association.