Journal of the San Juan Islands


Mission accomplished, fond farewell

March 4, 2013 · 8:23 PM

Volunteer flight instructor Bob Jamieson, right, receives a handshake and desk clock from Friday Harbor High School's Larry Wight, in a farewell tribute Feb. 20 after 10 years of teaching students to fly. / Steve Wehrly

By Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter

Bob Jamieson loves everything about airplanes and flying. And he especially loves teaching kids to fly.

For 10 years, he’s volunteered his time as an FAA-certified flight instructor to teach the private pilot ground school class to more than 50 Friday Harbor students. At the monthly School Board meeting on Feb. 20, he was recognized for his service with a desk clock, a plaque and a gift certificate for two at The Place restaurant.

He’s logged more than 25,000 hours in the sky; March 11 will mark the 50th anniversary of his pilot’s license. He’s often the night medical evacuation pilot for seriously sick or injured people who need to be flown to mainland hospitals. He’s built planes from plans, and restored classic aircraft.

But he says his greatest satisfaction has come from teaching hundreds of people to fly: he’s been an FAA-certified flight instructor for 40 years, teaching hundreds of people to fly at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in the U.S. military – and at Friday Harbor High School for the past ten years. Plus, he had a complete career as a commercial pilot for American Airlines.

“I had a great time teaching those kids,” he said. “They were all upstanding, high-character kids who were no trouble to teach. It’s been especially gratifying to watch maybe 15 local students, like Connor Johns, Blake Guard and Andrew Scheffer, become pilots.”

The hardest thing for kids to learn? “Patience,” Jamieson said. “Kids have no fear. I have to teach them to stay within their abilities.”

The most fun? Annual small airplane trips to Boeing Field and the Museum of Flight, where Jamieson assigned projects and reports to every student. “I have a small collection of truly wonderful drawings of planes by the students. Some of the kids are fantastic artists,” he said.

Jamieson clearly liked teaching at FHHS, and he’s trying to talk his daughter, Megan Jamieson, into following him as a volunteer ground school flight instructor at the school.

Which is just what Larry Wight, director of career and technical education at the FHHS, wants to see happen in other technical or career fields.

“Bob’s class was just excellent. He’s an example that I hope others with relevant skills will emulate,” Wight said. “A few more people like Bob can make us the best school in the state, if we aren’t already.”

Jamieson returned Wight’s praise, saying that Wight provided “everything necessary so the program was successful. He was so good to work with, and I hope he can continue the class and develop new ones.”

Except it will probably be difficult to find even one more person like Bob Jamieson.


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