Carson boy receives gift of flight for birthday surprise |

Carson boy receives gift of flight for birthday surprise

Karl Horeis

Nine-year-old Jordan Hoover knew his mother had a surprise for him but she wouldn’t say what it was. He was asking questions, trying to figure it out.

“One of his questions was, ‘Would it be scary to do it?'” she recalled. “And I’m scared to fly so I said, ‘I’m not going to answer that!'”

Saturday the Empire Elementary School fourth grader discovered his surprise: he would be going flying with his mentor, Ron Kendall, for an early birthday present. He’d never flown in a small plane before.

Pilot Bob Brogan showed him around before the flight. Jordan sat in the pilot’s seat and pulled back on the controls.

Brogan pointed to the flaps on the tail moving up and down. Jordan grinned, tongue poking out between his teeth as he giggled.

Then Brogan pulled the flap handle, moving the wing flaps.

“Is that to stop when you’re landing?” asked the boy.

“Well, it’s to slow you up so you don’t come in too fast.”

Brogan knows what he’s talking about. A retired U.S. Navy pilot, he made 233 landings on air craft carriers – mostly in an A1 Skyraider.

Kendall, Jordan’s mentor, watched with a smile. He’s also a substitute teacher.

“I have a lot of fun with the kids because they’re so full of energy.”

He helped start the mentor center through the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada in the late ’90s but only became a mentor in May.

“I figured if I was going to be proselytizing about it then I better practice what I preached,” he said.

Jordan’s mom watched him learn about the plane before take off.

“He’s just jazzed,” she said. “He said, ‘This is so cool,’ then he went and gave Ron and everybody a hug.”

He said he learned where the controls are, how the plane flies and where to put it when you’re done.

After take off, Brogan flew his 1964 Cessna 172 north to Reno where he landed before the return flight. Jordan took the controls and flew the plane.

“His legs are too short to reach the rudder pedals but that’s OK, he still took hold of the steering column and kept it going straight,” Brogan said.

He and Kendall know each other through the Navy league.

Mentors get together with their mentees for two or three hours every week. Next week Kendall and Jordan, who turns 10 on the 28th, may ride horses.

“That was fun when we did it before,” said Jordan.

“We’re not sure what we’ll do yet,” said Kendall. “You should ask him, he’s my mentor – I’m the mentee.”

For information on the Mentor Center, which has an office at Western Nevada Community College, call director Ruth Gordon at 445-3346.

Contact Karl Horeis at or 881-1219.