April 19, 2023

SUN ‘n FUN Author’s Corner features Kevin Lacey of Aircraft Repo

Jon Robinson

Aircraft Repo cast member discusses his new book at SUN ’n FUN. (Photo: Phil Lightstone)

— By Phil Lightstone

Friday March 31st at SUN ‘n FUN featured Kevin Lacey discussing his new book “Fly It Like You Stole It – The Early Years” in the Authors Corner.  Kevin found his passion for aviation while attending high school in the south side of Dallas. Although his plans did not turn out exactly as he hoped, his life and career path took several unexpected turns. At 19 years old, Kevin sold his car and bought a wrecked airplane and a motorcycle. He earned a lot of his flight time repossessing airplanes. Kevin is a well-rounded accomplished aviator with nearly five decades of aviation experience. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with multiple Jet Type Ratings, a Sea Plane rating and a Flight Instructor Certificate. In addition, he is a Certified Aircraft Mechanic with Inspection Authorization.

Kevin’s book recounts his experiences as a young inexperienced aviator looking for a pathway to becoming an airline pilot for United Airlines, or any other airline.  As with many things in life, his journey in aviation began with watching aircraft in the pattern at his local airport through the window of his high school classroom.  One day, while at the airport, he wandered through an airport day, with the ramp littered with brand new jet aircraft.  Wandering into a brand new United Airlines Boeing 707, he sat in the cockpit admiring all the flight instruments, controls, buttons and switches.  His time in the 707 was like turning on a light switch, beginning him down a lifetime career path.  With a lot of grit, determination and obstacles, Kevin’s life story embodies the passion and desire of a golden age of flying from years gone by.

With his advanced flight training out of the way, he had to struggle to earn credibility as a pilot. While seeking jobs as a pilot, he was often told that “we are not hiring mechanics to fly airplanes, we are hiring pilots!” Kevin became intimately familiar with the maintenance side of several types of corporate jets before he finally got the chance to fly one. It was not long before the naysayers would claim “he must not be much of a mechanic if he can fly a Learjet”.

With over 800 aircraft repossessed and from the television series “Airplane Repo”, Kevin brings a series of stories from the early days of his aviation career chasing his dreams to become an airline pilot and all the obstacles encountered along the way.  Although he signed up for flight school right out of high school, he ended up in an aircraft mechanic program. That lead to a deviation from his intended career path, but he used his newfound skills as an aircraft mechanic to pay for his advanced flight training.

Kevin is now training the next generation of mechanics and pilots, focusing on high school students in Texas.  Founded by Kevin, Lt. Col. Greg “Spanky” Barber, and Ret Delta Airlines Captain Ron Roland, Tango Thirty One Aero Clube, Inc. (https://www.t31aeroclube.com)  is a  non-profit organization founded in October 2016 as an idea to allow high school age people access to the world of aviation and enable them to explore career opportunities.  Tango 31 purchases barn find Cessna 150’s for the students to rebuild and fly while completing their flight training and ratings.  The students just pay for the fuel, but invest a lot of sweat equity to get the barn finds airworthy and safe.  All the students are FAA Licensed Student Pilots, one has earned his FAA Airframe Mechanic License, three Members have earned their FAA Private Pilots License, and several more have soloed.

You can purchase Kevin’s book on Amazon.ca: Kindle at CAD $9.99; Hardcopy at CAD $36.43; and Paperback at $26.02 (plus taxes). You can find more information about Kevin at https://www.texasairfleet.com.