Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Haircuts with Heart featuring Tim Newton from Ageless Aviation Dream Flights

Red Banner with HOF Episode

In this episode recorded in September of 2018, we continue our "Haircuts with Heart" series, where we look at a few of the causes and charities that Sport Clips supports. This episode is with Tim Newton - veteran USAF fighter pilot and volunteer pilot of Ageless Aviation Dream Flights. The Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation is a non-profit organization established and dedicated to honoring seniors and United States military veterans. The primary focus is on individuals living in long-term care communities. Their mission is to “Give Back To Those Who Have Given”. Through Sport Clips and other donors, the Foundation provides Dream Flights in a Boeing Stearman biplane, the same aircraft used to train many military aviators in the 1940’s. For more information, click here.

Tim Newton and Chad Jordan in front of plane

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
November 7, 2018 Tim Newton USAF Veteran Military career and volunteering at Ageless Aviation Dream Flights

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Chad Jordan:                Hey, everybody. This is Chad Jordan, Director of Marketing for Digital Services at Sport Clips. This is another edition of our Sport Clips Hall of Fame Podcast. Thanks so much for joining us. Back by popular demand, we're going to do another episode feature about our Ageless Aviation partnership that we have that does the Dream Flights for veterans. So we're here right now, just did a couple this morning. Some more this morning, and so it's fresh on our minds and we want to really promote this great organization. So, I'm lucky enough right now. I have one of the pilots with me. So I'm going to have him introduce himself.

Tim Newton:                Hi Chad. My name is Tim Newton. I am a volunteer pilot for the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation. I've been flying with them now for ... I think this is my fourth year volunteering. My wife Grace and I live in San Antonio, and we do this in our spare time. We volunteer our time, and we love doing it. We love traveling and flying the veterans and hearing their great stories, and being able to say thank you back to them for what they've done for us.

Chad Jordan:                You mentioned that you've been flying with them for four years, but let's qualify that really quickly. You've been flying longer than four years obviously, and you've served in the military.

Tim Newton:                Yes.

Chad Jordan:                Can you give me ... Let's hit the rewind button on your life, your career. Take me back to ... All right, you went to college I believe to one of the academies?

Tim Newton:                I did. I graduated from the Air Force Academy. Right after graduation, I went to pilot training in Columbus, Mississippi, which happened to be my hometown.

Chad Jordan:                That's where that accent is from. Okay, I've been trying to pick that out all weekend.

Tim Newton:                That's right. So, I went to pilot training. After graduation from pilot training, I was fortunate or unfortunate enough to be chosen to stay there as an instructor pilot.

Chad Jordan:                Okay.

Tim Newton:                So, I stayed there and was an instructor pilot in a T-37 for five years. Following my instructor tour, I was chosen to go fly F-16s.

Chad Jordan:                Wow.

Tim Newton:                I went to-

Chad Jordan:                I'm assuming that's a step up speed-wise from the T-37 or whatever you were training in?

Tim Newton:                A slight step up. I went from 200 miles an hour to about four or 500 miles an hour. It was fantastic.

Chad Jordan:                How often was Top Gun playing in your house, and the soundtrack, and Kenny Loggins? Is that just in with cycle, a loop?

Tim Newton:                Probably.

Chad Jordan:                Because it was naval, you're like, "No, I don't want anything to do with that."

Tim Newton:                No. It's probably how often was it not playing in my house.

Chad Jordan:                Okay.

Tim Newton:                It still goes in my head when I fly. I love that movie. No, I flew F-16s all over the world. I went to training in Tampa, Florida. My first assignment was over to Germany, and I was stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. I flew-

Chad Jordan:                Was it Eglin in Tampa? Where were you there?

Tim Newton:                It was MacDill.

Chad Jordan:                Okay.

Tim Newton:                MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. When I was in Germany, that was in early '90s. I got there right at the end of the First Gulf War. I've got some combat time over Iraq, flew a lot of combat missions there. Then, we were also-

Chad Jordan:                Serbia, Bosnia I think going on right out of that.

Tim Newton:                We did Bosnia also. That's right. We were splitting our time flying combat missions over Iraq and Bosnia.

Chad Jordan:                Okay.

Tim Newton:                So not a lot of time at home, but it was great flying, great experience. Not a lot of fun to get shot at but hey, that's part of the job, but it was lot of fun. Following that tour, I went to Phoenix to Luke Air Force Base to be an instructor pilot in the F-16.

Chad Jordan:                All right. Okay.

Tim Newton:                That's right.

Chad Jordan:                You now instructed on the F-16, all right.

Tim Newton:                That's right. So, I instructed in the F-16 for three more years, love that totally, and love teaching guys how to fly more. You'll see a trend here because there's more. Following that tour, they needed me to go remote to Korea for a year without my family.

Chad Jordan:                Oh yeah. Do you have kids at this point?

Tim Newton:                I did-

Chad Jordan:                Okay.

Tim Newton:                ... and had a brand new baby. That just wasn't going to fit in what we needed to do. So instead of going to Korea in the F-16, I gave up flying the F-16 and went back to Columbus Air Force Base again to fly the T-37 again to be an instructor pilot again for three more years.

Chad Jordan:                Wow, for your family?

Tim Newton:                That's right.

Chad Jordan:                You climbed out of your favorite cockpit probably.

Tim Newton:                Yeah, I did.

Chad Jordan:                That's awesome story as a dad.

Tim Newton:                It worked out. Following that tour, I got out of the active duty Air Force, and got hired by Northwest Airlines. I started flying for Northwest Airlines, and at the same time I joined the reserves, the Air Force Reserves part-time. They were nice enough to let me transition from the T-37, which is the first trainer to the T-38, which is the fighter trainer.

Chad Jordan:                All right.

Tim Newton:                So, it's faster. It's a fighter-type jet, and I flew as an instructor in a T-38 in the reserves for 11 years, while at the same time I was flying commercially for Northwest.

Chad Jordan:                Thank you for your humility. You're leaving out part of your career that I definitely wanted to touch base about, and that is because I'm an Air Force brat.

Tim Newton:                Yes.

Chad Jordan:                My dad served for 22 years, moved all over the world. Aviano Air Force Base in Italy, especially during the Bosnian conflict-

Tim Newton:                Been there.

Chad Jordan:                ... was stationed there. I had on my wall Thunderbird posters, which if those of you that don't know Thunderbirds, they're kind of like the top pilot. They do the airshows, all of that kind of stuff. They're the heroes to every Air Force brat. You've already touched base on how important your family is and the sacrifices that you made. Can you describe to me your Thunderbird experience and exactly what that entailed?

Tim Newton:                Well, when I was at Luke Air Force Base as an F-16.

Chad Jordan:                Based on Arizona?

Tim Newton:                Right, as an F-16 instructor pilot. I had applied to be a Thunderbird pilot several years, but I really wasn't ... I had the qualifications, but I wasn't really competitive yet, until my final year. I was competitive that year, and I was at Luke Air Force Base, one of the most experienced F-16 pilots in the US. I had the qualifications. I had age. I had the seasoning. I had the experience, and the Thunderbirds were hiring. Every year they rotate in new pilots, and I applied again. I was the number one selection from my base, from Luke Air Force Base, and that being the premier F-16 base in the world. So, my chances were pretty good to make it on to the Thunderbirds. Well, what I didn't know was that year, they decided to institute a new policy that-

Chad Jordan:                That year?

Tim Newton:                That year.

Chad Jordan:                Oh my gosh.

Tim Newton:                For the first time, that year they were going to institute a new policy that they were not going to take any pilots who either had a wife who is pregnant or a child under one-year old, and I had a six-month old.

Chad Jordan:                Oh wow.

Tim Newton:                That year being the number one guy, I was eliminated and I didn't make it. I always teach my kids, I preach to them from day one, "Everything always works out the way it's supposed to work out." Looking back on it, had that happened and had I made the Thunderbirds and become a Thunderbird, my life would have been completely different than it is now. I'd loved the way my life turned out. It took the right path. It was a hard pill to swallow at the time, and I was an unhappy guy for quite a while. I look back on it now and honestly, it's one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.

Chad Jordan:                I love that story. A number of our listeners are stylists or team members at Sport Clips. For you to be able to be the top achiever in your field and still have some disappointment, and yet not let that derail you, or put you on a funk, or make you give up all together-

Tim Newton:                That's right.

Chad Jordan:                ... and now the perspective that you have all these years later looking back on hand.

Tim Newton:                Yeah. It put me on the path I needed to be on. So, that's how it turned. It was a fork in the road, and it put me where I am today.

Chad Jordan:                Well, let's talk about where you are today.

Tim Newton:                Okay.

Chad Jordan:                This is not what you do full time flying for Ageless Aviation.

Tim Newton:                Correct.

Chad Jordan:                What do you do normal days?

Tim Newton:                Well, I was flying for Northwest on 9/11, and following that, the airlines had a huge drawdown. I was laid off along with probably a third of all the commercial pilots after 9/11. Luckily, I had the military to fall back on because I was in the reserves. So, I was a reserve instructor pilot in the T-38s and stayed there at Columbus Air Force Base as a simulator instructor also while I was laid off.

                                    I was laid off for four and a half years. All that time I was applying to other airlines, and I was finally picked up and hired by FedEx. Again, funny how things work out because you look out here today, and look who's in Joe Gibbs Racing, Sport Clips, and FedEx.

Chad Jordan:                That's right. Denny Hamlin representing both of us.

Tim Newton:                Exactly, exactly. So, funny how things work out. So now, I fly triple sevens for FedEx internationally all around the world, and I absolutely love it. It's a fantastic job.

Chad Jordan:                It gives you the flexibility to do this part, right?

Tim Newton:                It does because it's international, my trips are usually longer. I can do one long big trip for 12, 13 days, and then I have time off for the rest of the month to be able to volunteer my time to do this.

Chad Jordan:                How did that come about that you found out about Ageless Aviation? It was a fit for you. Describe that for me please.

Tim Newton:                It was pure luck. My wife Grace, at the time was working as the Communications, Public Relations Director at the Air Force Village in San Antonio, which is a military retirement community.

Chad Jordan:                Oh yeah, huge.

Tim Newton:                Great location. The scheduler for Ageless Aviation called her up and said, "Hey do you have, might you have some veterans? We're going to be in town."

Chad Jordan:                Okay. So, this was their reaching out?

Tim Newton:                Yeah, they were reaching out because they were just beginning. They're kind of early on. They reached out to her and said, "Hey, do you have some veterans? We're going to be in town. Would you like for us to take a few of them up on flights? Completely free, don't cost you a penny." Well, she did a little research and found out about it. I happened to be home on that day. I wasn't on a trip and she said, "Would you like to go out to the airport?" We went out to the airport and I watched, and we just loved it.

Chad Jordan:                Had you ever flown a Stearman before?

Tim Newton:                Never.

Chad Jordan:                Okay.

Tim Newton:                Never flown a taildragger airplane. Certainly never flown a biplane. The husband and wife team that were there, Mike and Lynn Sommars, were just fantastic. We hit it off with them, and at the time Ageless Aviation only had three pilots. They had Darryl, and they had Mike Winterboer, and they had Mike Sommars. The two Mikes fly for American Airlines. All three of those were civilian guys. They had no military time, and they needed a military pilot. They also needed-

Chad Jordan:                They needed, why? To be able to connect with the-

Tim Newton:                To communicate and just you needed ... You're right. For the communication. You connect with them a little on a different level.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, for sure.

Tim Newton:                We speak a different language sometimes. They also needed someone who understood and could do PR and communications, and social media who spoke-

Chad Jordan:                That doesn't seem to be up your alley.

Tim Newton:                Exactly. Who spoke military and who spoke seniors. So, Grace was the perfect fit for that-

Chad Jordan:                Yeah. That's awesome.

Tim Newton:                ... and we travel as husband and wife teams when we go to these events. So, it allowed us. It was a perfect fit for us, and it was a perfect fit for the organization. So, we fell in love with it. I had never flown anything like this. It took me about a year and a half to get checked out on this airplane.

Chad Jordan:                Wow.

Tim Newton:                It's an easy airplane to fly. It is not an easy air-

Chad Jordan:                If it was 800 miles an hour, you could do it?

Tim Newton:                I could do that. That's right.

Chad Jordan:                The 80-mile an hour plane it's-

Tim Newton:                It is not an easy airplane to land. I've flown a lot of airplanes in my career and this is the most difficult airplane I've ever-

Chad Jordan:                There's no autopilot on this one, right?

Tim Newton:                No, no.

Chad Jordan:                That you can engage and disengage with.

Tim Newton:                It's difficult to land. It's very easy to fly. It is very, very difficult to land. We were the perfect fit for the organization, and they were the perfect fit for us, and we've been with them ever since.

Chad Jordan:                So, how many years ago is this now?

Tim Newton:                That was about four or five years ago?

Chad Jordan:                Four years you said?

Tim Newton:                Yeah.

Chad Jordan:                So in those four years, you've flown ... Probably you lost count on this point.

Tim Newton:                Oh, gosh.

Chad Jordan:                You'd have to check the logs.

Tim Newton:                Hundreds, hundreds.

Chad Jordan:                Okay. Give me some memorable stories-

Tim Newton:                Oh my gosh.

Chad Jordan:                ... of flying some veterans.

Tim Newton:                I tell you what? I've got stories that will just bring tears to your eyes. It's funny. These seniors and veterans come out to these events and they've been told or for some reason, they think that they're pretty much done. They've done it all, and there's really nothing left for them to do. Then all of a sudden, we put them in this airplane and take them flying, and they realize, "Wait a minute, maybe I do have more to do?" This doesn't happen all the time. This happens about two, three, four percent of the time. We call it seeing the magic. When it happens, you see it, and it's fantastic.

                                    Here's what I mean. Let me tell you a couple of stories. It rewires people's brains. I don't know how it does it every now and then, and it changes their lives. For instance, we flew an event. Darryl and I flew an event in Cheyenne, Wyoming. A large family, 20, 25 people signed their great-grandfather up. He was on hospice. He's in a hospital bed, on oxygen, on hospice, World War II veteran. I mean, he was there on day one of World War II, and he was in bad shape, on hospice in a hospital bed.

                                    He didn't want to come out. His family signed him up. They all came into town, and they kind of build it as a family reunion type thing. Well, they brought him out to the airport. He's in a wheel chair. He's on oxygen. They'd said, "He's not very mobile." He doesn't. They were worried that we can't get him in the airplane. Well, I wheel him out in the wheelchair to the airplane, to the back of the wings where we load the people.

                                    The whole family has crowded around, and I am turned with my back to the airplane and my back to him, and I'm talking to the family telling them what to expect on today's flight. All of a sudden, all their eyes just got gigantic. I'm not knowing what's going on.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, what's going on behind you.

Tim Newton:                I turned around and look. He has taken his oxygen off. Stood up out of his wheelchair, climb on the wing-

Chad Jordan:                Oh my gosh.

Tim Newton:                ... and he's halfway up the wing getting in the airplane.

Chad Jordan:                I've seen. I've been in that. It's not easy to do.

Tim Newton:                All by himself.

Chad Jordan:                Right.

Tim Newton:                They didn't even know-

Chad Jordan:                Yeah. I needed help myself.

Tim Newton:                They didn't even know he could stand up.

Chad Jordan:                Wow.

Tim Newton:                I was crew chiefing for Darryl. Darryl took him flying. They land. We got a call or an email, I can't remember what it is. I think it was an email later shortly after that. He's not on hospice anymore. He's doing fine.

Chad Jordan:                He still got all that adrenalin-

Tim Newton:                No.

Chad Jordan:                ... still pumping through his body.

Tim Newton:                He's doing great. He had basically been told that he was done-

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, wow.

Tim Newton:                ... and it was time for him to give up and he realized, "Wait a minute, maybe I don't have to give up." Doing fine.

Chad Jordan:                I know what I think it is. I think he went back, and he had all these bragging rights about getting to do this Dream Flight.

Tim Newton:                That's right.

Chad Jordan:                He needed to tell that story to everybody that he met.

Tim Newton:                You got it. You got it. Here's another quick one. We had a gentleman in San Antonio that was at Grace's retirement community where she worked. He had dementia and Alzheimer's, and he had not spoken in over a year, hadn't spoken a word in over a year. He comes out. He couldn't communicate, but he kind of nodded and he could follow instructions. We said, "Okay, we can take him flying." We took him flying. He didn't shut up since. He's talking full sentences, complete communication.

Chad Jordan:                Good recall now?

Tim Newton:                Yeah.

Chad Jordan:                I mean, better recall?

Tim Newton:                Well, I don't know about the recall, but at least he can communicate.

Chad Jordan:                Expressing himself.

Tim Newton:                He had not spoken a word, and his family ... We were all amazed, but it rewires their brain sometimes. That is the magic that this program provides. It takes them back to a time when they were young and vibrant-

Chad Jordan:                Yes. Stronger.

Tim Newton:                ... and having a great time. It brings back all those memories and they're a kid again. You see them getting this plane. They're a little apprehensive when they first get in, but when they get out, they're like a little kid. They're giggling, and kissing the ground, and jumping up and down, and singing. It's just fantastic. The response that we get from them and to see what joy it brings to them. Why would anybody not want to do that and be a part of that?

Chad Jordan:                You talk about the magic, and I'll tell you from this side of things. We're in Darlington right now. Sport Clips is great enough, they brought my aunt and uncle who live in South Carolina. They brought them out to the NASCAR races this weekend. So, they've finally got to do the things that I get to do and hang out, and the Dream Flight is one of them. My aunt and uncle did not know that yesterday that they were going to get to do the Dream Flight.

                                    They talked to you all at the race and my uncle is a Marine Corps veteran. He told me, "Dog, man that's cool that you got to do that." Darryl and the other pilot talked to him and more than the pilot obviously, the head of the organization and said, "Why don't you guys come out tomorrow?" I don't think my uncle slept last night. He was literally on cloud nine before in the clouds. He kept talking about it, and my aunt had given him a hard time because she had wanted to do it. So, she marched up to Darryl and struck up a conversation, and I think conned Darryl into letting her go.

                                    When my uncle realized that he could also do it, it was amazing. He'd been up. He'd served in the '70s and '80s, so he'd been in helicopters before. He had never been in open cockpit plane before. So, he'd joked it was better being in a plane not getting shot at-

Tim Newton:                That's right. That's right.

Chad Jordan:                ... than in a helicopter. What you guys are doing, what this organization is doing, the volunteer hours that you guys are putting in. I know you're getting it back in terms of the memories, and the goodwill, and all of that.

Tim Newton:                Right.

Chad Jordan:                One of the reasons we love supporting this, as an organization Sport Clips loves supporting Ageless Aviation is we know the good that it's doing. We can't see it the way that you see it, so that's why I love having you on getting to express that stuff.

Tim Newton:                We're an all-volunteer force and we say we're not paid in money. We're paid in satisfaction.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah.

Tim Newton:                We are overpaid. One thing we didn't mention that we really should have mentioned, all these flights are completely free.

Chad Jordan:                That's true. Thank you for saying.

Tim Newton:                We don't charge them a penny.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah.

Tim Newton:                This is 100% completely free for the veterans. There is no catch. They cannot buy a flight from us, and the reason it's free is because of Sport Clips. We can't say thank you to you and the organization enough for allowing us to do this because without you guys, we couldn't do this. It's not cheap to provide this, and we could go out and we could charge money for the flights, but it wouldn't be the same.

Chad Jordan:                Right.

Tim Newton:                It wouldn't be as special. Everywhere we go, we say thank you. We tell everybody. "Look, this is not possible without the Sport Clips organization." You guys make it all possible, and we love it when we're at the location and all the Sport Clips people come out.

Chad Jordan:                Oh, yeah. Yeah, I know.

Tim Newton:                They come out and support us, and help load, and listen to the stories.

Chad Jordan:                I run a lot of our social media stuff and I see it.

Tim Newton:                Absolutely so.

Chad Jordan:                The way they light up when they come out.

Tim Newton:                Please, please, if you see that we're going to be near you, please come out and be a part of the day. You will absolutely love it.

Chad Jordan:                One thing, and I know we got to wrap this up. One thing I love and you've mentioned it earlier about the family reunion for the guy in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Yesterday, people were bringing their grandkids out.

Tim Newton:                Yeah, absolutely.

Chad Jordan:                It really does bring the family together. They want to see this and celebrate it.

Tim Newton:                It's a family event. That's right.

Chad Jordan:                Grace is not here, but I hope to get to see her later.

Tim Newton:                She will be here.

Chad Jordan:                I called her your better half, but you're two pretty good halves.

Tim Newton:                We're pretty good fit.

Chad Jordan:                Yeah, you guys are. So, thank you for all that you're doing. Thank you for your service to this country.

Tim Newton:                Thank you guys for letting us do this. We absolutely love it.

Chad Jordan:                We'll talk more about Ageless Aviation in podcasts to come, but we'll also provide some information in the podcast notes so you guys can find out how to get involved. How to get people signed up, the application that they need to fill out, but we definitely want to support. So Sport Clips thanks you guys, and appreciates everything that you do.

Tim Newton:                Thank you. We love being here.

Chad Jordan:                All right. Thanks.