SUCCESS STORIES Rodney McKnight

Help Them Soar

by Rodney McKnight

In 2009 after graduating from James E. Taylor High School in Katy, Texas, Rodney joined the United States Marine Corps. There he honorably served for five years as a Sikorsky CH-53 Echo Helicopter flightline mechanic. This inspired Rodney to want to learn to fly helicopters. Rodney won the 2013 AOPA student pilot scholarship! Rodney worked on earning his private pilot license (airplanes-single engine-land) in 2014 while stationed at Marine Corps. Air Station New River located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. After an honorable military discharge, Rodney immediately started flight training in helicopters.

In 2015 Rodney moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, after getting his helicopter rating added on his pilot’s certificate. On his own, Rodney studied and sucessfully tested for advanced ground instructor rating. With the experience gained, and time worked as a Marine Corps and helicopter mechanic, Rodney was able to receive an endorsement from the FAA to test and earn his Airframe and Powerplant mechanic certifications in 2016. Rodney spent most of his time working on his brother Craig’s airplane in the restoration process and doing maintenance on other aircraft as well. In 2019 Rodney was eligble, and successfully tested for, and earned his Inspection Authorization (IA).

Since joining The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation, Rodney has trained for and completed his instrument rating, earned his Inspection Authorization, and is now training for his commercial pilot license while maintaining aircraft for the Red Tail Scholarship Foundation. Rodney is also mentoring a few inspiring aircraft mechanics along the way through an aircraft maintenance program he and his brother Craig created. Rodney is training to be a flight instructor for the foundation and looks forward to training new pilots in the future.