Pilot Corbin Mickle got his start at Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Corbin waiting for planes to land in October on the site of Sullenberger Aviation Museum. The Museum will have a grandstand facing the runway at CLT where visitors can watch planes take off and land.

When you meet Corbin Mickle, his love of flying and airplanes shines through his somewhat shy exterior. This senior at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte took his first flight when he was eight with a friend of his grandfather and at 18 earned his private pilot’s license after passing his final FAA exams with flying colors! 

Corbin will start his college career in aviation at Averett University in Danville, Virginia, this fall where he will also play Division III baseball for the Cougars in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

But it all started when he was a little kid. He and his parents, Scott and Shannon, would visit the Carolinas Aviation Museum* and then take a picnic to the CLT Airport Overlook** and watch planes land at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

His first memory of airplane spotting is at CLT’s Airport Overlook in the lookout between the two runways. 

Corbin at Carolinas Aviation Museum taking a look at the museum’s DC-7 – one of the first commuter airplanes. The plane will be displayed on the plaza of the new Sullenberger Aviation Museum. 

“I remember the smell of jet fuel and how big the planes were – the sound when the planes took off was so loud,” said Corbin in an interview with Sullenberger Aviation Museum. “I didn’t know exactly what gravity was at that time, but it seemed impossible to me that something that big could get off the ground.”

At 5 years old, he had his first iPad and was flying planes all the time in the virtual world. But he really wanted to fly in a real plane. Visits to the Aviation Museum helped quench that thirst — he and his parents visited a few times a month. These adventures introduced Corbin to the Miracle on the Hudson A320 and the stories surrounding the event. He hung out in the F4 and pressed all of the buttons. His 7th birthday party was at the museum. He and his friends played in the 727 flight simulator and explored the museum for a couple of hours to everyone’s delight.

Corbin “flying” the museum’s Cessna that will continue to be an interactive experience at Sullenberger Aviation Museum’s Main Gallery. 

Soon after his opportunity came to touch the clouds. On his 8th birthday, his grandfather met him at the Goldsboro (NC) Airport and surprised him with a flight with “Mr. Chad” in a Piper Cherokee. It was a surprise he’ll never forget. That is when his interest spiked, and it began to get serious.

<As co-pilot on his first flight with his grandfather and Mr. Chad at the Wayne County (Goldsboro, NC) Airport (GWW).

He started training at the Monroe Airport (EQY) when he was 12 years old. He participated in the Aviation Challenge program and attended NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. He worked with mentors – other pilots that guided him along the way. He knew by high school that he wanted to be a commercial pilot. 

“With Corbin, something stood out to me and made me want to retain him as a student. His ability to pick up concepts and develop skill with such ease made flight instructing fun. Seeing a twelve-year-old excel at tasks that grown men and women struggle with was amazing and for him to do it without fear was even better. To this day, I still use him as an example when talking to other students about certain concepts. As a pilot, he is easily the best student I have ever had.” 

Adam Mclinton General Manager Aerowood Aviation

“Flying among the clouds is just cool – looking down from above and seeing things from a new perspective,” Corbin says. “I mean, if you have the opportunity to make the SKY your office and fly massive planes around the world, why wouldn’t you do it.”

^Corbin on Jan. 2 at Monroe Airport when he passed his FAA exams and became a licensed pilot.

As he considered post-high school plans, he researched a variety of paths to pursue aviation.  He knew he wanted to continue playing baseball (he’s an All Conference and All Region high school pitcher), and he wanted a college degree, so he looked for a college or university where he could do both aviation and baseball.

“There are just a few options for aviation where you can play a varsity sport and study aviation, which is why I was really glad to find Averett University,” Corbin says. “At Averett, some of the guys on the team are also studying aviation, so I feel really comfortable with my decision to go there.”

Corbin pursues baseball with the same intensity that he does aviation. His favorite baseball memory to date is from his Sophomore year at Ardrey Kell. 

“We were playing our biggest rival, and it was a really important game,” said Corbin. “If we won, we would win the Conference title. The score was 1-0, the bases were loaded, and there was one out. Then they put me in to finish the game. The first batter comes up, and the batter gets a piece of it, but it’s an infield fly and nobody scores. The second batter comes up, and I pitch to a 3-2 count. Here comes the last pitch. I strike him out. Third out, and we win the game. It’s a great memory.”

Ardrey Kell High School vs. South Mecklenburg High School in SoMeck 4A conference baseball tournament semifinals, May 2, 2023


“Corbin does an amazing job of leading by example and is a respected competitor on the baseball diamond. He has truly left his mark on our program.”

Jason Hill- Owner/Head Coach On Deck Baseball Academy

And what is Corbin looking for in a post college career? He wants to fly the planes that captured his imagination when he was little. “787’s around the world,” he says. “Big planes that fly to faraway places.”  He’ll have to work hard to get there – logging between 1000 – 1500 hours before he can fly for an airline. But we expect that he’ll approach it with the single mindedness that he approaches his other training – for baseball and for flying. He’ll combine his passion with hard work and make it happen. 

And what does he tell people that want to have a career as a pilot?

“Find mentors and instructors that have a passion for teaching and flying,” said Corbin. “There are many ways to become a pilot, so find your path and stick to it. And above all, make sure you are having fun along the way. All of the hard work is worth it when you are in the air and doing a job that you love.”   

<Corbin with flight instructors (LtR: Jessica, Adam, Alec) at Monroe Airport (EQY) after his first solo flight. 

*The reimagined Sullenberger Aviation Museum opened on June 1, 2024. 

**The revamped and relocated CLT Airport Overlook opened on June 8, 2024.

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