Aviator Aspirations: A Young Man’s Journey from a Paper Route to Owning the Patriots Jet Team

From a very early age, Randy “Howler” Howell knew it was his destiny to fly. Now his own dreams realized help to inspire others. In 1972, a local writer in Florida working for the Palm Beach Post interviewed an 18 year-old who had delivered enough newspapers to start paying for flying lessons. This ambitious young man had just started working, doing odd jobs at the Tilford Flying Service at the Palm Beach International Airport. The agreement was that half of each paycheck would go toward flying lessons so that he could log his 200 hours and get his commercial pilot’s license. “It’s all I have ever dreamed of,” he said of becoming a commercial pilot.

That young man who swept floors and delivered newspapers in order to become a pilot was Randy Howell, the current owner of the only civilian-owned, six-jet aerobatic team in the U.S. He went on to graduate in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Florida, and then became a captain for United Airlines, as well as a Reno Air Race pilot. Through his business ventures, he was able to accumulate the military style jets that now compose the Patriots Jet Team.

Randy and his wife Marie now not only run the Patriots Jet Team, they also designed the Hangar of Dreams, a stunning 35,000 square-foot jet hangar in Byron, California. The Hangar houses all of the aircrafts belonging to the team, and also serves another important purpose: it acts as a think-tank, classroom, and event space for the Patriots Jet Team Foundation, which raises money to support the sciences in schools.

When that reporter interviewed Randy Howell about his dreams in 1972, there was no way Randy could see into the future. However, he had a singular vision of his own success and even then, understood the hard work it would take to get there. It is clear from his own dedication to aviation that Howell has spent a good portion of his energies ensuring that young people of all stripes, who share his love of flight, can also achieve their dreams. The Patriots Jet Team Foundation regularly invites school age children into the Hangar of Dreams to explore the thrilling world of aerospace and aviation.

Sometimes dreams of youth can seem unattainable. But when we hear Randy Howell’s own true story, we are reminded that dreams can come true. With the right inspiration, hard work, and support, young people will realize their own dreams can also be transformed into reality. Like the 18 year-old boy in Palm Beach who saved his pocket-money to get his commercial pilot’s license, the Patriots Jet Team believes that every young person with moxie should have a chance to go sky-high.

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