If you’ve been watching the skies in recent weeks, you may have seen a red and white 1969 Cessna 182 airplane dip low while flying overhead.
Keith Sparks of “Sparks Fly LLC” was very likely the pilot of that plane, flying with three Morrow County High School seniors on a “Friday Fly-By.”
Cardington-Lincoln High School senior Kiersen George got to fly in the front seat alongside Sparks and help with the flight. Her classmates Baylee Adams and Emily Benson were also along for the CHS flight.
“We flew over the Dollar Distribution Center and Candlewood Lake,” George said. “And then saw the Columbus skyline in the distance. That was awesome to see the Columbus skyline.”
George who signed with Purdue University to play softball next year said the flight was about an hour long and a really great experience.
“I would do it over and over again if I could,” George added. “It was wonderful.”
With Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order Sparks business slowed down and he got the idea of doing something special for the community by committing to “Fly-By Fridays” where he flew over an area for people to watch and wave.
People could get a picture, a prize, a roll of toilet paper and a plane ride. Then the last few weeks of May he included seniors on flights.to recognize and honor the 2020 graduates in the county.
“I also hoped to lift people’s spirits with the Fly Bys and by taking seniors for a flight above the county,” Sparks said. He did some of the skywriting patterns on Face Book so people could see what he was tracing in the sky.
All the flights for the seniors at the six county high schools were gratis for the kids. He sponsored some flights and thanked sponsors Jennifer and Matt Rich of local Subway restaurants for being sponsors along with sponsor Greenside Plumbing of Cardington.
With the use of flight tracking apps, Sparks traced a graduation cap with 2020 and the capital initials of the five county high schools including: CHS, GCS, HHS, MGHS and NHS.
His Face Book page, Sparks Fly LLC has pictures that students and parents sent to him after the flight. His favorite is a student who got off the plane and came across the field doing a knee and fist pump.
Sparks said he was a little surprised that about 90 percent of the students who flew were girls. One girt asked him if he ever got bored on flights.
“My answer was ‘no,’ I like to fly, and it’s never boring because everything is always from a different perspective,” Sparks said.
Sparks’ hometown is Greenfield Indiana. He said he got the aviation bug when his granddad took him up for a flight. He is retired from the U.S. Army and has two planes at the Morrow County Airport. He has lived in Morrow County with his wife Shelly who also flies since 1997.
Sparks is presently on the Morrow County Airport board and he’s pleased that they are working on improvements such as a weather station.
The senior Fly-By Fridays have come to an end in June. However, Sparks still does sightseeing flights and tours. More information about Sparks Fly LLC is available at www.sparksflyllc.com.