UT student doubles as pilot, perseveres to fly planes

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rankin White | Daily Texan Staff

Nothing can stop Jack Bane from pursuing his passion to fly planes — not parents, money or flying 2,400 miles solo in a small aircraft.

Since he was 12 years old, Jack, now a biology and Spanish sophomore, has overcome numerous obstacles to fly planes. Although he hasn’t flown much recently, he aims to earn his commercial pilot license next month to work as a pilot for a skydiving company this summer.

Although Jack always found planes interesting, he said he caught the flying “bug” at 12 when his uncle, a United Airlines pilot, took him flying and let him control the plane for the first time.

“Ever since I got to experience what that felt like to be in the sky and in control of an airplane, I held onto that feeling,” Jack said. “I just wanted to keep doing that because it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”

After turning 13, he took his first flying lesson in Boerne, Texas. Michael Walker, a family friend, became Jack’s flying mentor and said Jack stood out because of his curiosity for flying. 

“Certain kids have this innate desire to fly,” Walker said. “I saw myself in (Jack) because I was the same way when I was a young boy.”

Eventually, Jack told his parents he wanted to become a pilot, but they cautioned against it because of the cost to earn flight hours. However, Marc Bane, Jack’s father, said Jack found ways to earn hours through meeting helpful people.

“He focuses in on something like a laser beam, and you can’t get it out of his head,” Marc said.

Jack earned his 40 hours for free by joining the Civil Air Patrol and assisting a flight instructor. After turning 16, he got his glider license to fly solo and later received his airplane license. Now, Marc said he feels safer riding with Jack, knowing his skills.

After graduating high school in 2017, Jack attended an air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and flew solo in a small aircraft. Without a set route, Jack flew from Port Aransas, Texas, to Oshkosh in five days. Along the way, Jack said he met people in the pilot community who hosted and served him.

“I was amazed at the community of pilots who wanted to help a young guy make his way across the country,” Jack said. “If I hadn’t met a lot of those people, I wouldn’t have made it there.”

Despite his aunt, a United Airlines pilot, warning against landing at Midway because of its busyness, Jack landed the small plane at the Chicago Midway International Airport. Walker said this landing impressed him because Midway is one of the busiest U.S. airports with mostly commercial airliners.

“It takes a lot of guts to fly into a place like that in any airplane,“ Walker said. “Much less a small lightweight airplane that only flies 90 miles an hour.” 

Despite these obstacles, Jack continues to fly, often taking friends in his plane around Austin. Jack said he enjoys bringing friends along because flying has become routine for him.

“Whenever I take people flying with me who have never been in a small plane or any plane, it allows me to experience that newness of flight with them all over again,” Jack said. 

Since his parents financially support his and his brother’s college education, Jack works as a track coach to afford flying costs.

From connecting with unlikely people to providing a window for experiencing the world, Jack said God put flying in his life for a reason.

“Flying has taught me a lot about myself and what life is and is not about,” Jack said. “I’m not sure what the future of flying looks like for me, but I know it’s a part of God’s plan for my life.”