Greg Whitworth is flying high, not just because of a new, expensive toy, but he's going home again, home to Kissimmee, Florida, two hours and 375 miles away.
"Looks like we'll take off in the west," says Whitworth as he surveys the clouds and wind conditions.
For two months pilots like Whitworth had to find a place high and dry for their planes. Some found shelter in Columbus, Georgia, others in Gulfport, Mississippi. About 40 pilots flew into Montgomery, anywhere but Florida to protect their investment. In Whitworth's case, a $440,000 investment. He's the proud owner of a single-engine craft. This is Whitworth's second trip to Montgomery.
"Every time there's a storm, some don't hold up too well," Whitworth says.
As Whitworth saddles up for a flight back to Florida with his instructor, he'll be flying in less favorable conditions. The remnants of Hurricane Jeanne, but Whitworth wouldn't have it any other way. It's all part of a lofty goal, a goal to earn his pilot's license. Whitworth has his private pilot's license. Now he's working on his instrument rating.
"This is freedom for me, my escape, home away from home," says Whitworth.
In two hours, Whitworth will land back in hurricane-free Florida, hurricane-free for right now at least.