Words Sean McDevitt | Photos Rory Schweighart
Chris Huhn has flown them all, from balsa planes to RC jets to a full-scale Cirrus SR22 Turbo. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
There once was a fifth grader who, every day in class, would “fly” his pencil in the air pretending he was in control of not a rocket ship or a daredevil motorcyclist but a plane. Not even a fighter jet.
His imagination would put him at the controls of that “plane,” and he’d explore not only what it would take to go left or right and forward but up and down too. Because for this youngster, it was not about being in an X-Wing or an F-16 and flying fast and taking down the enemy. It was all about simply flying in three dimensions, which fascinated him.
It was this fascination that got Chris Huhn into flying radio control and, ultimately, flying full-scale aircraft.
“I’d never been in a plane before at that point.”
Being curious, Huhn wondered about how birds flew in the air. It took a middle school assignment to help him find his answers.
“I was in the sixth or seventh grade, and I wrote a paper about how airplanes fly,” said Huhn. “I wanted to learn. I’d find a word like ailerons, and I was like, ‘how do you pronounce that?’”
Flying happened to also be in the family. His uncle was an airline pilot for American and flew during World War II. Around the same time he was researching his airplane paper, Huhn, his uncle, and one of his uncle’s friends went up in a Cessna 172.
Huhn said, “He came and visited, rented a plane near our house, and took us flying out over Lake Michigan. I’d never been in a plane before at that point. It was just this completely new experience. I remember looking out the front window of the airplane, seeing all these controls, and the feeling of being up in the air.”
“I was doing the RC thing, the full-scale thing, and studying aerodynamics all at the same time.”