HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO (February 1, 2017) – each autumn, when the aspen trees turn a brilliant gold and the Colorado Rockies take on a sun-kissed hue, people travel from far and near to view the splendor as they wind through mountain passes or hike the state's myriad trails.
But Wind Crest retirement community resident Bob Shiley takes a different view. From his Cessna 172, he glides over and through the mountainous landscape like a golden eagle, taking in fall's colorful performance.
In fact, in 63 years and over 2,000 hours of flight time, it has become his favorite skyward destination. "I suppose my favorite place to fly over is the Rocky Mountains in the fall when the aspen trees turn a brilliant gold and red. The town of Aspen is filled with aspen trees and is just gorgeous," he says.
Having become proficient in mountain flying by instructing and guiding other pilots, as well as running a guest ranch for pilots in Wyoming with his wife, he now heads out weekly with a flight partner.
They take off from Centennial Airport in Englewood, CO, where he keeps his Cessna in a hangar. It's just 20 minutes from Wind Crest. They fly over Colorado, Nebraska, and into Wyoming sometimes, he says.
While he certainly enjoys the view, Bob most appreciates the intricacies of flying.
"Flying requires your full attention, and you have to be very precise not only in the flying techniques you use but how you interact and interrelate with other air traffic and other people," he says.
"Flying seems to attract a certain kind of a person, and we all get along really well," he adds.
In fact, he and 17 neighbors recently formed a retired pilots group at Wind Crest. For their first outing, they had breakfast at Centennial Airport. They have toured the Peterson Air & Space Museum in Colorado Springs. They have also toured Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.
The club includes several female pilots, one who lives just two doors down from Bob.