Mike Pfleger’s love of flying began when he was very young—his father, a former pilot, took him to watch planes at the airport, taught him to draw them, and to build plastic and balsa wood models of them. Mike rode his bicycle, and later his motorbike, to local airports in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to hang around restoration shops where WWII planes and early jets were being reborn. He learned all he could about flying and, after writing a high school research paper on glider soaring techniques, was allowed to take lessons. He obtained his private pilot license in gliders at age 16. Mike remained very passionate about flying gliders and continued the sport through high school and college.
FAA vision requirements at the time didn’t allow him to pursue a military or airline pilot career so he was advised to enter the engineering field. That he did, obtaining a Bachelors degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University before working as a performance/flight test engineer at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mike continued flying, racing and towing gliders in southwest Ohio and enjoying tailwheel classics like the J-3 cub, Cessna L-19 and Piper Pawnee. Mike also learned basic aerobatics there in planes like the Bellanca Citabria and Decathlon. A flying club member who was an ER doctor interested Mike in the field of medicine and his career path changed at that point. Mike attended University of Cincinnati Medical School and then completed his Emergency Medicine residency in Phoenix, Arizona, where he met his wife and put down roots.
After the medical school bills were paid off, he was able to purchase the North American T-6 in which he’s accumulated more than 500 hours through formation flying, aerobatics and racing at Reno. At Classic Fighters of America, Mike flies the P-51, F4U Corsair and T-33.