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Landon Pratt

Born of parents who loved aviation and the outdoors, Landon soloed a glider at fourteen and immediately began a four year sailing adventure around the world with his entire family. The sailboat was a 39 footer which had plenty of room for his father and mother, Betty, older brother Michael, and half brother Len. Landon really learned to fly with missionaries while in New Guinea.

Landon flew in Mexico, the Carribean delivering freight in Beechcraft 18s, and South America. He flew in Alaska and worked for quite a while for Air Midwest.

Continuing his love of the outdoors, Landon flew gliders and tow planes at Turf Soaring and became quite accomplished in glider aerobatics. He also loved sailing and did quite a bit of it during his short lifetime.

His dad, Leonard, had flown airshows doing glider aerobatics and Landon dreamed of following in his father's footsteps. After coming to the Knoxville, Tennessee area, working as a charter pilot for Alpha Aviation in Morristown, Landon continued sailing and became IAC qualified to do the 2000 airshow at McGhee Tyson Airport with an aerobatic routine in an L-33 or Baby Blanik. This beautiful routine showed the aerobatic skills Landon honed while flying at Turf Soaring.

Leonard, his dad, was president of the Texas Soaring Association sometime in the 1950s or 60s; he earned his Silver C, Gold C and 2 Diamond C flights, one for altitude and distance and one for out and back. He held the Texas altitude record for a week or two, over 14,000 feet. He is listed in the National Soaring Museum Hall of Fame for his contributions to motorless flight.

Landon could read the weather exceptionally well and knew how to enjoy it. He did numerous cross-country flights from Knoxville Downtown Island Airport both with dual and solo gliders of the Smoky Mountain Soaring Association. Not caring about the documentation of his accomplishments, he would rather take someone with him. With Adele MacDonald, he bought a sailboat to enjoy th 'great lakes of the south'.

Both he and Adele enjoyed taking hang gliding lessons at Lookout Mountain Fliht Park. Late in June Landon had been approved for the 1400 ft leap off the mountain. But on July 3rd whil removing his sailboat from cherokee Lake, Landon leapt upward to the heavens instead of down off Lookout Mountain to emain in the element he loved, the wind and air.

Landon was returned to Heber Springs, Arkansas where the living remains simple.

Landon's love of the air was infectious. He was planning to start a soring operation at the east end of the Great Smoky Mountains. He hoped to combine the beauty of the forrested Appalachians with the serenity of glider flights to everyone. We will miss him. When there is a good day for cross-country soring we will look up and smile knowing that was a day Landon loved.

—Bob Davis, SSA State Governor for Tennessee

Posted: 7/1/2002

Final Glide 

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