TCA director changing course as passion for blue skies beckon

By DEANE ERTSThe sky is not the limit in anything that Johanna Walker takes on. The impressive array of talent that she has brought to the Tecumseh Center for the Arts as its director is testament to the enthusiasm that she brings to whatever enterprise she is involved in.Now, her long love affair with flying, which has taken a backseat to her theater management, has moved to the co-pilot position, as she and her husband, Dan, have launched a flight school aptly named SkyWalker Flying at Lenawee County Airport in Adrian. “It has all happened incredibly fast,” said Walker about the new sidebar to her duties as TCA director. “Back in March, I had just returned from flying to Alma for the fun of it, when I heard that the flight school that had been at the Lenawee County Airport had moved its operation to Ohio. I was so excited that as soon as I could get in touch with Dan, I said, ‘We should open a flight school in its place.’ It took him two days to think it over, but he agreed.”Walker said that SkyWalker Flying would have three important components going for it: flight training, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft sales and rental. The last of those, the aircraft sales and rental, will include representation of one of the newest lines of airplanes in the nation, the Allegro, which is made in the U.S.A.“The whole thing would not have been possible without the cooperation of Kevin,” said Walker of her boss, City Manager Kevin Welch. “He has allowed me to pursue both of my passions for the time being. The TCA is still incredibly important to me, and I plan to be as much assistance to whoever the new director will be as I can.”Dan has fully embraced the new enterprise, after the brief hesitation when his wife sprung the idea on him. He enrolled and passed courses in aircraft maintenance to become a Rotax factory-trained technician to provide mechanical expertise in the new business.The Tecumseh couple are backed in their flight school by seasoned veterans at the airport, including certified flight instructor Tim Koelewijn, who can train prospective pilots for both single and twin-engine flight, as well as light sport certification and tailwheel endorsements. Kerry Brown is another instructor with more than the basic certification. With more than 20,000 flight hours under his belt, Brown also pilots helicopters and balloons. The squadron available to students includes a standard Cessna 172 and several other classic craft, along with the new Allegro and an Aztec Twin.Joh is particularly excited about the debut of the Allegro. She and Dan flew to the East Coast to see some of the first models roll off the assembly line.“We caught a tailwind there and literally stepped out of our plane and into theirs,” said Joh. “They were waiting for us on the tarmac and I went up in one while Dan circled us in our plane. He was shooting video of the whole thing. It was amazing. On the return trip we caught another tailwind. It was like a sign that the new venture was pre-ordained. We will be taking possession of our new Allegro next Friday, and we can’t wait to get it so we can offer classes in it.”The Allegro is considered a “light-sport” plane, which means that certification by a novice takes only 35 hours of training rather than the full 70 hours of instruction required for a private pilot’s license. To the uninitiated, the difference between a light sport airplane, like the Allegro, and a light airplane, like a Cessna or a Cub, is indistinguishable. The main distinction is between the weights of the aircraft.It is one thing to land an airplane on a landing strip and another to land a plane on water and it is hard to find a flight school that will train pilots for both, but SkyWalker has both the instructor and the facility. Lenawee County Airport has a lake that will accommodate floatplanes and SkyWalker Flying is one of two places in the state that offers the training necessary to master landings on both terra firma and water.Although the flight school is open now, the official grand opening will be taking place during the airport’s annual “Summer Blast,” an event that benefits Junior Achievement and features go-cart races, plane rides, drawings, and prizes, beginning at noon on Saturday, June 25. Junior Achievement gives local youth the opportunity to be involved with a program that teaches financial planning, workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and the importance of staying in school. The airport is located at the southeastern corner of Adrian, near the intersection of Sand Creek Highway and Cadmus Road. For more information on SkyWalker flying call 517.759.2590, email, or logon to“The TCA has been a huge part of my life and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity of working with the city and the professionals who have performed on its stage,” Walker said. “Dan and I have developed close personal relationships there that will continue, and I’m glad to be keeping a role at the TCA, but we’re both happy and excited about our new prospects.”

Tecumseh Herald


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