"Flight For The Human Spirit" Plans To Land In ALL 50
By Chris Batcheller
Talk about going on tour! Michael Combs is touring the
country just a few years after being seriously ill, and he is doing
it in an LSA.
Back in 2003, Michael was seriously ill. So ill in fact, that
the doctors had written him off. Slowly he started to recover and
began to think about the life ahead of him. He wanted to become a
pilot, but was devastated when he realized that he would never
qualify because of his medical conditions. Then an issue of Popular
Mechanics about the sport pilot license changed his life.
He bough a flight simulator and spent the next year and a half
recovering. His dreams soon changed from being able to spend an
hour out of bed, to wanting to fly.
Michael Combs' Remos
Really wanting to fly.
You though getting your ticket was hard? Michael's medical
condition had left him with a bad memory problem. Crossword puzzles
exercised his brain enough where he could start to study. At first
simple things like names were impossible. With enough work,
Michael was stuffing all the airman's knowledge he could into his
How is his memory now? His wife and co-pilot Michele laughs,
"now he has a better memory than me!"
Combs With Wife Michele
Michael wanted to see all 50 states. Not just land in 50 states.
See all 50 states. 140 landings and 22,000 miles, the
equivalent of flying around the world. Now that's a cross country
flight! In 2008 he announced to a group at speaking engagement that
he was going to land in all 50 states, and hadn't talked about it
with his wife! Her reaction? She hoped that he would forget about
Two months later, on Dec 23, 2008, Michael got laid off from his
job. But he was very sure about one thing. He wanted to keep going.
So they started contacting sponsors. Michael had a few simple
criteria for an LSA. Durability (what could make the journey),
confidence in the design and portability, as in the ability to fold
the wings. They ended up with the REMOS sponsorship because the
wings fold down. One of the plans was to be on Times Square in New
York City, unfold the wings and be on the Today Show. Later a
flight school jumped on board as a sponsor.
At first the sponsors were skeptical if they would really do it.
Michael's comment? He would have done it with, or without
So with a commitment from REMOS, and with 145 hours of flight
time - Michael began the longest road test ever for an LSA.
How is the trip going? When I caught up with Michael and Michele
at Oshkosh, they were at their 100th stop. And where are they now?
Well, why don't you ask them! They have harnessed the power of
social media with Facebook and Twitter. They've covered the eastern
half of the United States and were working on the western half,
including Alaska and Hawaii. Michael commented "the social media
side has been huge because people can be plugged in, that type of
fan interaction is just fun!'
So what's next for Michael? He is booked through November with
speaking engagements and air shows. Next year he plans to set six
new world records. Then he plans to tour the airplane and donate it
to a museum. He also plans to release a book and commented that the
whole flight was filmed in high definition video and they've taken
thousands of photos. I see a documentary in their future! He told
me he also wants to conduct an orchestra of his original pieces. It
looks like he will be able to fulfill that dream too. He's met up
with a professor in Chicago connected to the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra, who offered to teach him.
Part of the human spirit, is finding a way. At one time Michael
and Michele didn't know how they could make it more than a