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Local man teaches flying lessons and owns vintage planes

When you look up and see a double-winged aircraft that looks as if it should have in its heyday during World War I, chances are that it would, in actually, be Sniders resident Todd Givens.

Todd has come a long way since he first climbed into an airplane. He is now offering local flying lessons for anyone interested in becoming a pilot.

Todd has been an aviation fanatic ever since he caught the “flying fever” from Ryan Still in the fall of 1987. Flipping back through the pages in a journal, he said, “I started flying with Ryan on September 29, 1987 at the Walterboro Airport, and he’s just such a great guy. I was working at Best Steel while I was in 12th grade, and I used that money to take flying lessons, and before that, I was flying radio-controlled airplanes. My dad, Ben Givens, was in the Air Force, so I’ve been around planes all of my life.”

Todd did his first solo flight with Ryan in January of 1988. He then took his written flight test. But, at about that time, he met Anita, who became his wife, joined the Air Force Reserves, and started thinking about starting a family. He then quit flying until 2002.

It was right around this time that Todd and his father began talking about buying a vintage aircraft. “We decided that we would go in and buy a tail-wheel airplane. It’s a World War II vintage 1947 Luscombe 8-E. We then found a flight instructor out of Columbia, Earl Yerrick, who was once commander of McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Columbia, and he came down here to work with us. My father got current on his license, and I got my private certificate.”

 

“I was just in love with aviation,” Todd said. “I’ve always liked vintage airplanes.” After the 9-11 tragedies occurred in New York and Pennsylvania, Todd was activated for a two-year stint with the Air Force Reserves. It was at about this time that Todd and his father bought a second vintage plane, a WWII Stearman P-T 17 trainer biplane.

“After this purchase, I got my commercial rating, and Earl and I started doing air shows and aerobatic flying, and we did this for several years.” Next, Todd got his instrument rating and became a Certified Flight Instructor rating. “I tested in my Luscombe, and there’s an 80 percent fail rate for people who take this test for the first time,” Todd said. When asked how he initially did, Todd said, rather modestly, “I passed.”

Since that time, Todd has moved on to his current level of flight instructor. “I have started a flight school, and am teaching one-on-one, grass-roots personalized pilot training that was taught in the 40’s and 50’s. I’m trying to bring this back,” he said. “I just love teaching, and I want to give back to people in the same was I was taught, just through a love of aviation and giving this back to my students.”

Todd said people who desire to become pilots can get everything at his flight school, which is also his