May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

At the ripe old age of 23, Tyler Klingemann, flight instructor at Hangar One, has been flying for seven years. “I began at 16,” he says, “which is the FAA’s minimum age that a pilot is allowed to fly solo.”

The dream took hold much earlier than that though. The night before a family vacation to Disney World, 8-year-old Klingemann couldn’t stop thinking about a Travel Channel episode he’d seen. “The host jokingly stated that all passengers in the back were fed dirt and worms while first-class passengers were wined and dined,” he says. He stayed awake, dreading his first flight ever. The story does end happily; after the trip, it wasn’t Disney World he told his friends all about, but rather the airplane.20130204_bs_4933_Web

“Ever since that moment, I saved every dime I earned,” Klingemann says, “whether it was babysitting, mowing lawns, or working at the local bagel shop to earn enough money to pay for flight lessons.”

His diligence paid off as a junior in high school with his private pilot’s license and again in May 2012 with a degree in professional flight from University of Nebraska–Omaha. Klingemann has his ratings in instrument, commercial, and multi-engine, as well as his flight instructor’s certificate.20130204_bs_4954_Webw

He began working at Hangar One five years ago as a line-service technician, towing, fueling, and cleaning aircraft. He’s since moved on to certified flight instructor, educating students in UNO’s aviation program, instructing business owners in expanding their companies’ outreach, and just sharing his love of flying with anyone who wants to learn. “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life!” Klingemann says. The best feeling, he adds, is seeing a student land an airplane solo for the first time.

He has no problem with the 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week availability to his students, and he doesn’t mind the very late hours of nighttime training. But there is one aspect of flight instruction that Klingemann doesn’t embrace with enthusiasm. “I don’t like others getting sick,” he says. When the occasional passenger gets struck with motion sickness, Klingemann lets them control the plane, opens the air vents, and lands as soon as possible. “Knock on wood, I haven’t had someone throw up yet!”20130204_bs_4981_Web

Though flying is the job that is also a hobby for Klingemann, the bachelor manages to get away from the Millard Airport to hang out with friends or volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters. But he’s never away from flying for long; his two other jobs consist of instructing jumpers at Skydive Crete and training students in UNO’s aircraft simulator. “Any time I fly, I’m happy,” he says. “Seeing the city lights and circling downtown at night is one of my favorite things to do.”