From the Science Center to the Skies: Mr. Coberly’s Piloting Adventures


Tejas Vadali At the windowsill of a house in western Kansas sat a little boy, his eyes eagerly tracking a glider’s movement over the nearby cornfields. Mr. Coberly’s love of flight started young, yet he still carries that wide-eyed enthusiasm in all of his flying escapades. Mr. Coberly grew up in what he calls “the absolute middle of nowhere.” The nearest town to where he lived was called Gove City and had a population of just over 100. (100 cows, that is.) There were about 75 people. His parents piqued his interest in flying, as they both had their flying licenses. Mr. Coberly says that his first introduction to flying came when some local farmers in his area created a flying club for the locals. “They got together to form a flying club and the local crop duster taught them all to fly.” He recalls. “This was a particular accomplishment for my mom — she had polio when she was young and had very little use of her legs, so the plane had to be fitted with a hand control to operate the rudder, which a pilot usually controls with her feet.” Mr. Coberly picked up flying again during the summer of 2017 after a long hiatus and after receiving his pilot’s license, he acquired his instrument rating, allowing him to fly in rough weather. He loves the perks he gets a pilot. “Flying along the lakefront and seeing Chicago from that perspective is particularly wonderful.” He says. However, more than anything, Mr. Coberly loves the ease of travel. He remarks, “I love how quickly I can get to places outside Chicago, whether it is in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, etc. There are no roads to follow, no stoplights, and best of all, no traffic!” As one would expect from a physics teacher, Mr. Coberly admires complexity. Performing difficult maneuvers and navigating through darkened skies is his cup of tea. Additionally, Mr. Coberly loves learning about all of the intricacies of flying. “A pilot ends up learning a lot about a wide variety of topics — engines, weather, aerodynamics, navigation, the GPS system, airspace regulations, radio communication, etc,” he said. “There is a lot to know, and I like that challenge.” Another aspect of flying that Mr. Coberly enjoys is spending time with others. Sophomore Sebastian Valenzuela, who also has his pilot’s license, speaks fondly of his flights with Mr. Coberly. “Mr. Coberly is a top-notch pilot who takes safety very seriously.” Sebastian says. “His love for aviation is reflected in the way he runs checklists, performs maneuvers, and practices good airmanship. Plus, he always lands smoothly. He always strives to learn as much as he can and has fun while doing so.” Though it may seem unlikely, the piloting community at Latin is certainly present, and Mr. Coberly is one of its biggest advocates. Ms. Norris, who works in HR at the former Lurie House, says “I started taking lessons at Midway Aviators at Midway Airport. I started with a Cessna 152, but I eventually got to fly a DA20, a two-seater plane. I was actually the first black female to get my license out of Midway Aviators. I haven’t really flown since I had my son, but I would love to soon. Driving kind of sucks, but flying is really great! I love to be in control in the open sky, no traffic, no lights, just me. With flight, it’s like riding a motorcycle on the highway, there’s no real destination, it’s about the journey.” Mr. Coberly has come a long way from watching crop dusters in the Kansas sky, but he has not lost the love of flight he had then. Whether it is alone or in a group, through clear skies or torrential rain, flight gives Mr. Coberly a new perspective of the world. He has always been a lifelong learner who tries to derive knowledge from whatever he does, and in flight, Mr. Coberly has just found one more puzzle to solve.]]>