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Date: May 26, 2008 --- Revised: January 6, 2016

The Little Master Sergeant

by Ira McComic

This is an update of an article I wrote several years ago, at the beginning of one man’s pursuit of a dream. That dream hasn’t materialized, and it appears it may never. Yet that’s not a criticism. I've updated and reposted the article as a tribute to a man who had the courage to pursue his dream.

Napoleon was called “the little corporal”, and as you may remember, he had high ambitions. In the same vein, a man you might call “the little Master Sergeant” has some high ambitions.

That man is Don Constant and at a diminutive height of five feet, eight inches you might never guess he’s a career Marine Master Sergeant who was a gunnery sergeant, hard-nosed drill instructor, and judo teacher. But it’s that kind of fortitude that’s behind a mission to not only shake up things in gyroplane training, but also to make gyroplanes accessible to anyone who shares his vision for solving a common problem.

And what’s the mission that’s driving him? Here’s how Don puts it: “I want to teach persons how to correctly build and safely fly a flying motorcycle.” And, furthermore, he says, “Everything you’ve seen with flight schools, I’m not going to do; I’ll do the exact opposite.”

How did this mission come about? Don starts at he beginning. “I’ve worked all my life,” he said. While I was in high school in Illinois, I lost the job I had and when I went looking for another one, I found it with the Marines.”

In other words, Don dropped out of school and his new job was jarhead. That wasn’t the end of his education, though. While in the Marines, Don got a GED and went on to get a college degree in Business Administration, followed by an MBA.

After twenty years with the Marines, Don retired from the service and began a new career, this one as a schoolteacher. Now, after that fifteen-year career, he’s beginning another one, this time as an aviation entrepreneur.

How did it happen that this Marine and veteran educator, who until just recently had flown only a half hour in small aircraft, decided to teach the flight training industry a lesson on how to do things differently?

Don described it this way. “I was looking for a solution to my commuting problem. After teaching in the Austin Independent School District, I began teaching at a private, one-room school in north Austin and I was driving from south Austin. Then, the owner of the school announced she was moving the school to Salado, Texas, which was farther north and would increase my commute time to twenty hours a week. So, I began looking for a better way to commute.”

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