By Amy Roberts
For pilot Luke Watters, flying is the family business. His grandfather was an Air Force fighter pilot, his dad a recreational pilot and Luke, well, he’s been flying longer than he’s been driving.
So it’s no surprise that at just 28 years old, Luke has an extensive and impressive resume. He’s logged over 3,500 ﬂight hours, has a degree in aeronautical science, ﬂown drones in Afghanistan for the U.S. military, and trains jet pilots on “upset recovery” exercises. Luke does some pretty jaw- dropping (and belly-lurching) maneuvers above the clouds in an Extra 300, the type of plane that performs at airshows.
While Luke is the chief ﬂight instructor at OK3 AIR, based at the Heber airport, he’s much more than a teacher. He’s also a backcountry charter pilot and guide, adrenaline junkie, and an air concierge of sorts.
One of the services OK3 AIR offers is guided backcountry tours. So Luke is often ﬂying mountain bikers, canyoneering groups, campers and everyday sightseers to otherwise inaccessible areas.
“One of the best parts of my job is taking people to remote places that are pretty much only accessible by plane. It would take days to hike in, and there are no roads. But I get to land the plane and watch my clients’ faces as they take in some of the world’s most stunning scenery,” Luke noted. “People love that they can be in a place with no cell service and no other humans around for hundreds of miles, and yet have a quality meal and all the amenities right there. You can’t really hike in with a cooler full of ﬁlets and beer.”
While Luke loves backcountry charter adventures, what really gets his adrenaline going is the chance to take clients up in the aerobatic Extra 300.
“The chance to ﬂy an aerobatic plane is one of the reasons I took this job,” he said. “I’ll take clients up for a little ‘Top Gun” experience. From loops, rolls and hammerheads to tumbles, spins and snaps, we can do it all. There are only a handful of airports in the country with this particular aircraft, and fewer places where you get the chance to take clients for a ride in one. It’s just an unbelievable feeling to be able to share this kind of thrill with someone.”
Luke’s enthusiasm for ﬂying is truly contagious. He seems like the kind of guy who does mundane paperwork with a smile on his face. It’s one of the reasons he enjoys instructing as well.
“It never gets old to see someone else’s excitement when they’re learning to ﬂy. When people get in a plane with me, it’s because they want to be there. I get to interact with them and share my passion for ﬂying.”
A passion that leaves him, and his clients, ﬂying high.