At age 83, Pete Michaud, veteran aviator and owner of Brownwood Flying Service, still has a sense of humor.
“I’m trying to build up time to go to the airlines,” Michaud said as he stood next to a two-seat Cessna 152 trainer parked at the Brownwood airport.
Michaud has around 30,000 hours of flight time, including about 20,000 hours as a flight instructor, and he’s definitely not trying to build time — as many flight instructors do — to go to the airlines.
“I’ve been out here 44 years,” Michaud said. He never thought he’d be here this long when he opened the business — which provides flight instruction and aircraft mechanical work — in 1973, but retirement doesn’t interest him. He said he’ll keep working as long as he’s able.
“I can’t imagine leaving the airport and having nothing to do,” Michaud said as he prepared to look over the Cessna’s 235-cubic-inch engine and try to determine why its oil pressure isn’t as high as it should be.
Brownwood Flying Service’s facilities consist of an office in a section of the airport’s largest hangar, and on the other side of the hangar’s cavernous parking bay, a mechanic’s shop.
Michaud’s wife, Brenda, helps with the business, and he’s had part-time mechanics and flight instructors.
Michaud grew up in Bangor, Maine, and enlisted in the Air Force in 1952. He worked as an airplane mechanic before become a flight engineer on C-130 cargo planes.
Michaud spent 20 years in the Air Force, and he was stationed in numerous states and in foreign countries. He began learning how to fly planes in 1967 in Topeka, Kan.
A short time after leaving the Air Force in 1972 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Michaud traveled to Abilene to visit a friend. He ended up meeting the owner of Abilene Arrow, a flying service based at the Abilene airport. The owner asked Michaud to consider coming to work for him, and Michaud accepted, flying as an instructor and charter pilot.
One of Michaud’s students was the administrator of Brownwood Regional Medical Center, and he asked Michaud to come to work at the hospital as the assistant administrator. So Michaud moved to Brownwood.
He bought a small plane and began giving flying lessons while working at the hospital, and he had so many students, he decided to start his own flying service in 1973.
Michaud is amazed at the passing of the decades. "Hard to believe, isn't it?" Michaud said