Michael Maya Charles started flying at the age of 11, soon after his father learned to fly. Michael became his father’s “first student” soon after he obtained his private license. Soon, a few of the pilots at the small town FBO “adopted” the young lad, taking him with them on lunch flights and short hops.
The FBO owner recognized Michael’s keen interest in aviation and hired him as a “line boy,” the person responsible for refueling and washing aircraft. As part of their benefit package, the FBO offered all employees flying lessons at half price. This benefit was like adding rocket fuel to the passion of a young man with his head in the clouds, and Michael took every opportunity to fly.
Michael soloed on his 16th birthday, got his private on his 17th, and his commercial a couple of days after he turned 18. Soon, he was multi-engine rated and obtained his CFI so that he could teach others how to fly. While going to college, he earned money flight instructing, managing a flight school and flying charters.
Since those heady days, Michael has spent way too much time hanging around airports. He’s worked as a corporate pilot, flown canceled checks, owned a charter business, done a lot of instructing and was chief pilot for several companies. He flew for the airlines for 25 years, and was a captain with a major airline for 15 years. Michael recently took early retirement as an MD-11 captain.
Michael’s interest in writing began with a patient teacher in grade school, who encouraged him to stay with it, in spite of his initial difficulty with putting pen to paper. He hung in there, as she suggested, and eventually became editor of his high school newspaper. In his early 20’s, Michael became a freelance photographer and then writer for FLYING Magazine. These days, he regularly contributes to AOPA PILOT Magazine. He’s also working away at another book, this one about wisdom.
With over 22,000 hours in over 200 types of aircraft, Michael feels truly blessed. Though he has been writing for aviation magazines for over 30 years, Artful FLYING is his first book.
Michael was chosen by the Experimental Aircraft Association as one of the “Timeless Voices of Aviation.” His interview can be found here.