Pilot credits father for love of flying

Pilot credits father for love of flying


FLORA — Twenty-one-year-old Karlton Holcomb discovered his love of flying when he was six watching and working summers alongside his ag pilot dad in the family business.

He’s now a certified flight instructor and pouring his love of flying into others. 

“Everyone wants to be like dad when they’re kids, and that’s how all of this started for me,” Holcomb said. “When I was around six years old I got very interested in flying. I was bugging my dad every day about wanting to fly.”

He’s now passing on a lot of what he’s learned from his dad to others. 

Holcomb, the son of Karl and Casey Holcomb, grew up in Flora and first started pilot training when he was 16. He received his pilot’s license at 17, and although he knew at that point he wanted his career to involve airplanes, he wasn’t entirely sure of what he wanted to do with his skills. 

Holcomb is at Mississippi State University and got his commercial flying license during his sophomore year. During his junior year, he became an official Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). He recently got his CFII (Certified Flight Instructor Added Instrument) last year, which allows him to teach people how to properly navigate a plane through bad weather conditions. He is now serving as a crew chief with the Air National Guard on top of finishing up at MSU. 

“I wanted to teach people and pass along what I learned growing up,” Holcomb said. “Something else I got from dad is that it’s no fun flying by yourself. It’s always better to do it with someone else.” 

Holcomb said being in the aviation field has helped him make multiple connections and open the door to a lot of opportunities. 

“The pilot world is full of great people and you always have something in common with them,” he said. “I learned all of this stuff from my dad, and he is honestly the best teacher I ever had growing up. It’s honestly incredible. If I had gone back and talked to my 17 year-old-self, I wouldn’t believe my accomplishments. Words cannot describe what I’ve been able to do and it’s an experience everyone needs to have.” 

Holcomb is a rising senior at MSU and is set to graduate in May 2024. 

“I don’t care what I’m doing in the aviation world,” he said. “I just want to fly. I don’t know where I’m going to go from here, but I want it to involve airplanes. I carry over a lot of what my dad taught me to what I teach now, and listen to the old guys. We keep the old teachings going, and that’s pretty big to me.”

Holcomb is hoping to one day become a pilot in the military, for FedEx or UPS. 

Holcomb’s father, Karl Holcomb, has been flying since 1985. 

Over the past 38 years, Karl Holcomb has clocked in nearly 24,000 hours of flight time. 

Karl Holcomb said he remembers his son taking his first airplane ride with him at about six months old. 

“Much like me, Karlton has been flying all of his life, and my father was flying all his life too,” Holcomb said. “Karlton is a third-generation pilot. It’s exciting to see him do this and I’m very proud of him.”

The Holcombs own Holcomb Aerial Services that Karl’s father Rudy founded when he moved to Mississippi from Kansas.

Karl Holcomb said it’s neat to see his son share the joy of flying with him. 

“He got his CFII in August 2022 and that’s been a new joy for him,” Karl Holcomb said. “He’s been blessed with that and enjoys getting to share his knowledge and pass his skills along to other people to help them further whatever their goals are in aviation.” 

He said he and his son have had long talks about the aviation world and the sacrifices one has to make. 

“There are nights when you have to travel and can’t come home,” Karl Holcomb said. “Flying is not the easiest thing to get into, but if you can get in the right circles with the right people, they’ll help you out. There’s always a way in.” 

Casey Holcomb said to say she is proud of her son is an understatement.  

“I am proud of his tenacity, his grit, his heart, and his compassion,” she said. “Those long summers have paid off. Those late night chats with Karl have paid off. God is so good and I am so blessed to have him call me ‘Momma.’  I love you, Karlton. Keep aiming for the stars.”

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