Selmian fulfills dream of landing at Craig Field

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Once, while playing in the woods behind their house, two children &045; Jesse Blocton and his first cousin Lamar Tarver &045; heard airplanes landing.

They followed the sound until they came on Craig field and saw the menagerie of aircraft landing and taking off.

It was then Blocton decided to become a pilot.

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He also nurtured a lifelong dream completed Monday: To see Selma from the air and land at Craig Field.

Blocton and his co-pilot, Davide Dallera of Brescia, Italy, landed in Selma at about 11:30 a.m., and greeted his proud mother, Azaline Blocton.

Unfortunately, the poor visibility generated by the rain clouds overhead prevented Blocton from seeing the city, but he was still happy to do it.

Blocton and Dallera are part of a Pan Am training program. Like any vocational or technical school, they’re expected to train for two years. Unlike other vocations, they’re expected to spend much of their time thousands of feet above the ground, supported only by air pressure pushing on the wings of their crafts.

Jesse grew up in Selma and nurtured his love of flying by joining the local radio controlled plane club, which flew the miniature Cessnas and Pipers &045; like the one Blocton landed &045; at Craig Field all during his youth.

The club has moved on, but Blocton still remembers the experience. &uot;Flying was something I always wanted to do, every since I was a kid,&uot; he said. &uot;I just had enough guts to go do it.&uot;

Unlike some pilots, Blocton has no military experience, he just decided to fly after finishing college in Tennessee at Carson Newman college.

Blocton and his partner were on their way to Birmingham from the school’s home base in Fort Peirce, Florida when they decided to make a stop in Selma. &uot;I stopped here to see my family, that’s the main reason I’m here,&uot; said Blocton.

His first cousin, a National Guardsman, was with Blocton when he got his first taste of flying. It seems only appropriate for him to greet Blocton with Azaline on his first Selma landing.

He grew up within walking distance of the airport. &uot;If you shoot a gun you’d probably hit my house,&uot; said Blocton.

Blocton said the flight here was mostly uneventful, but they had to land using only their instruments, as visibility prevented them from seeing the runway. &uot;That’s what they train you for: Backups…plan ‘B,’ plan ‘C.’

A couple of times we’ve had instrument failures, but we’ve got backups,&uot; he said.