One of our senior pilots at Princeton Airport, Bill Ducharme’s passion for aviation started at a very early age. When he and his friends were younger, they would build model airplanes and take them to Grafton Airport. In exchange for a well-crafted model airplane from a future aviation lover, the pilot’s would allow Bill and his friends’ free short flights in their Boeing Stearman bi-planes around the area. It was then at the age of 14 that the aviation bug sank its teeth in Bill and wouldn’t let go.
Bill would train on and off for his private pilot’s license in between his work and family life. Bill reminiscences about his Taylorcraft airplane used for training, saying it was “some of the most memorable moments in my life.” He eventually took classes here at Princeton Airport during the mid 60’s. In December 1998, Bill finally received his private pilot’s license and even purchased his own plane – a Cessna 150 named “Creampuff” – he used regularly for three years until he eventually sold it back to Ken Nierenberg.
Bill recounts Eddie Rickenbacker as his foremost role model in aviation, the near-legendary World War I ace fighter pilot and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Recently, Bill passed his BFR (Biennial Flight Review) with instructor Pete Rafle, who has been flying with Bill for a number of years at Princeton Airport. “We did 2 power-off landings for the BFR,” says Bill. “Even with 9 knot winds, I felt great doing them!” His tenacity and joy of aviation has swelled as the years have gone by for Bill, and he says it best when he closed the testimonial with: “Flying keeps me young, and young at heart.”