Bill Wills received flight lessons as a birthday present from his wife in 2006. From then on, learning how to fly an airplane became his goal, and he reached it in 2007, when he earned his pilot’s license.
To get there, he studied for more than 60 hours, had guided flight lessons and passed a final test. A key step was showing that he could smoothly lift off and land his pane on the runway alone.
“The first thing you have to learn is to do things in small increments,” he said.
After his first solo flight, his flight instructor ceremoniously cut his T-shirt with scissors, which is a tradition among pilots.
Cutting a student’s shirt after his or her first solo flight symbolizes their growth as a pilot – and the fact that they no longer need an instructor yanking on their shirt and shouting instructions from the back seat.The practice dates back to the days of aviation before radio systems, according to pilot and aviation writer Rod Machado. Flight instructors would sit behind their students and get their attention by yanking their T-shirts.
Wills owns his own single-engine aircraft now: a 1946, American-manufactured Cessna 140. Cessna produced approx 10,000 of the 140s after World War II, with only about 2,000 still flying today.
Wills houses his Cessna 140 at a hangar in Kennett Square, Pa., close to where he lives. It takes him 30 minutes to fly to Ocean City, N.J., high above the bottleneck traffic. And from there, it’s a five-block walk to the beach. He also enjoys flying to Myrtle Beach and the Chesapeake Bay.
“There’s nothing like waking up at five in the morning, driving out when there’s no traffic, and flying,” he said.
Wills flies to plane-enthusiast events and wants to one-day fly to Europe to attend gatherings for Cessna owners. “I just like the freedom, the challenges, and the people you meet,” Wills said of going to these events.
“I want to expand myself, become a better person and experience things firsthand,” Wills said. “Life experiences make you the person you are.”’
Wills joined Aqua in April 2011 and is the Information Technology Director of Business System Support. He previously worked for 17 years as a senior manager for information services and marketing at Wawa, a chain of convenience stores. Wawa and Aqua are similar Wills said, in that they are both people-oriented businesses and leaders in their respective industries.
Wills has a PMP certification and master’s certificate from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Widener University. Midway through his career at Wawa, he began to manage the company’s marketing and branding. Providing both technological support and marketing strategy taught him how those two business components could be merged.
“To be successful in any organization you have to communicate well build strong relationships and get a full understanding of the business,’ he said.
Cessna Pilots Society
Rod Machado’s Aviation Blog