Charles' desire for flight began while working long hours in the fields of his family’s Indiana farm and watching the planes overhead.“Growing up on a farm, I learned early on the value of hard work and dedication,” he said. “I also knew there had to be another way to make a living.” His desire for flight intensified in eighth-grade when a relative who owned a small plane took him on his first flight. “I must say that's all it took. That day, I made my career choice, and despite many obstacles, I did not waver.”
His decision to attend Purdue did not come early enough to make the cut-off for admission to the aviation technology program so Charles completed his first two years through Vincennes University. During his final two years at Purdue, he worked as a resident hall counselor, flew in the Supervised Flight Operations (SFO) program, served as president of the AHP fraternity, and taught students for both Hanger 6 and Reid Airways.
A 25-year veteran of United Airlines, Charles supervises 17 crew members with a passenger capacity of up to 350 people over a worldwide route structure. His FAA certificates and ratings include: commercial airline transport pilot, instrument flight engineer – turbojet powered; airplane single- and multi-engine, land certified flight instructor; and certified ground instructor. He has logged more than 18,500 hours of flight time.
In addition to flying for United, he continues to help operate the family's 500-acre farm in Decatur IN. Charles and his wife, Jill, have two children — Shane and Alyssa.
This was originally written for the Distinguished Technology Alumni Awards in 2004.