Person of Interest: Chuck Hagerty

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Occupation: Librarian/Builder/Developer/Home Inspector/Writer (although, truth be told, I’d starve if the latter were the only one)
Hobbies: Reading, riding motorcycles, timber-frame construction, shooting, flying and building airplanes
Resides: Goode, Va.

Tell us about your history in Lynchburg?
I moved to Lynchburg in 1974, after completing my freshman year at Penn State, in order to attend Lynchburg Baptist College. Graduate school involved a return to Pennsylvania and attendance at University of Pittsburgh, after which I returned to Lynchburg.
My “Lynchburg day-to-day” initially meant being part of the faculty at Liberty University from 1978 until 1993. After that, my part-time business ventures became full time and I’ve been involved in construction, developing Cedar Rock subdivision, helping to start The Lynchburg Insurance Group and running J.F. & Associates Inspections.

What inspired you to build your own aircraft?
In 1976 I was one of six or eight students who signed up for flying lessons through the college. . .this fledgling program eventually became Liberty University’s ultra-successful School of Aeronautics, and I am proud to have been an early part of it.
I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, and the discovery of Kitplanes Magazine and the world of experimental aircraft in 2003 was intriguing… I started building in September 2004.

How long did it take to build your aircraft?
Construction began in 2004, and the plane flew in 2014, but there was a several year hiatus because business had gotten too busy. All told it took a little over 1,800 hours in a three-year period.

Tell us briefly about your crash experience.
The plane had accumulated about 50 hours and was functioning perfectly. My son, Nate, was visiting from North Carolina and on June 15, 2013, I took him up for his first flight. It was great. When we landed, I called my wife to let her know we were down safely, and she suggested flying to PA to have dinner with my parents. The circumstances leading up to the crash were several, but the short version is that I flared too high, bent the nose-wheel upon landing, careened off the runway and flipped the plane.

What did you learn in those months of rehab following the crash?
I learned what everyone learns eventually:
That life is short, your circumstances can change in an instant and that you need to make the most of every day. All clichés. . .
and all true.

Do you still fly?
As often as I can. However, getting back to that point took two years and is an entire story in itself.

What led you to write your book Inverted: Looking Back on Walking Away?
Going from being very busy to being able to do almost nothing was more difficult than I imagined. Taking notes about what was medically happening, going over the accident in my head and writing down experiences and feelings was therapeutic. Those notes led to the book.

What are some of your favorite local haunts?
A few pretty good restaurants, Lynchburg Airport, just about anywhere on Smith Mt. Lake and Falwell Airport.

For someone new to the area, what should they know about
our community?
The people are fantastic! In my home inspection business, I’ve met several thousand homebuyers over the past 20 years. Invariably, almost all the folks moving here from out of town comment positively on the people they meet.

What do you recommend visitors do when visiting Lynchburg?
Hike or drive on the parkway in the spring or fall, enjoy a boat ride on Smith Mt. Lake in the summer and get someone to take you up in a small plane at sunset any time of the year. The views and natural beauty are breathtaking.

What does “Lynchburg Living” mean to you?
Life at a pace that allows time to be savored while still offering educational and cultural amenities amongst a diverse group of people who largely hold to traditional values.

Contact Chuck at charles.hagerty@gmail.com

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