Young man flies high in Texas County skies

Staff Writer

By April Coble

It isn't very often that a person knows what he want to do for the rest of his life at a very young age. In the cases where he knows, a certain experience can be pinpointed as the moment he was inspired to do what it takes to do the thing he knows he will love.
In the case of 17-year-old Dakota Ray, he knew fairly early on what he wanted to do, and it started with a commercial flight when he was six-years-old. He says it was his first ever flight as a passenger that sparked his interest.
"Just the beauty of it," Ray said. "It was really dark and I was only six years old, and I'm like this is a good idea."
Ray notes having a pilot's license can lead to a good job, and he simply loves flying. However, there's more cause for being able to fly, and it has to do with his biggest fan and cheerleader - his mother, Fayla.
Fayla suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF). It is a hereditary disorder affecting the exocrine glands, which causes the production of abnormally thick mucus leading to pancreatic duct, intestinal and bronchial blockage. It can often result in respiratory infection. It is a progressive disease that can cause persistent lung infections, which can limit an individual's ability to breathe over time. It requires regular treatment with specialists familiar with the condition.
"One time she was on an airline flight, and she was perfectly fine when she got on the airplane," Ray said. "Then when she got to her doctor, she has to fly her to her doctor… she was really sick because of that airplane flight. So it's easier this way to fly her."
Ray's first time in the air was at just 10 years old. He was 16 years old when he finally flew solo, in Guymon. Three touch and go runs through the municipal airport. He received his pilot's license on June 9 - just nine days after his 17th birthday. He now plans to get his instrument rating, commercial license, high performance complex and twin rating. He hopes to either become a commercial pilot, or maybe even go into crop dusting. For now, he's using his talent as a tool to help his mother. He has only flown her to her doctor once, but there could be more in the future.
"The Fourth of July, Tuesday, I got in the plane, flew down to Dallas and picked her up from her tune-up," Ray said. "That took me only like 2 1/2 hours to get down there, then three coming back."
He isn't sure just yet, but he may be flying her again on July 12 for a check-up.
Congratulations, Dakota Ray, on your hard work to be able to work at what you love. We hope to see you in the skies again soon!