Jason Stephens has spent about 8,000 hours of his life in the sky at the controls of different types of aircraft, including more than a few above the desert and mountains of northeast Pinal County. He’s won five U.S. National Glider Aerobatic Championships and competed in the world glider championships twice.
He’s been flying for 31 years, since he was in junior high school in Alaska.
In 1987, Stephens’ father bought Arizona Soaring, a business located at the Estrella Sailport about 6 miles west of Maricopa. Eventually, Stephens, along with his brothers Mark and Matt, took over the business. So in addition to being his hobby, flying is his job.
Stephens and his staff at Arizona Soaring teach people to fly gliders. Also called sailplanes, gliders are small aircraft with no engines that use naturally occurring currents of rising air to stay airborne. When Stephens and his staff aren’t teaching, they give rides to the public.
“Flying’s on the brain constantly,” the resident of Gilbert told Pinal Ways. “I love my airplanes and my gliders.”
Stephens, who is married with a son, said that even at the young age of 7, his son is taking after the father.
“He also likes flying, so that’s a good thing,” Stephens said. “I have had time on vacation when I didn’t get to fly for a week or two. I get antsy.” | PW