In 1977, most 17 year olds dreamed of grandeur featuring Farrah Fawcett’s earthly delights, but some dreams soar above cruising height.
Brett Panter, a 17 year old boy growing up in Hollywood, had a higher altitude in mind. At the suggestion of his father, he went to Broward County’s North Perry Airport to investigate flying and what it entailed. The airport encapsulated the adolescent fantasy of flying in a practical manner, solidifying the dream in the form of a plane. Panter’s first flight was in a Piper Tomahawk.
“I remember the first feeling of flying, it was so exhilarating and exciting,” he said.
The freedom of flight is something that must be experienced to be truly understood. Once Panter gained that understanding, he was hooked; line and sinker. He began his training and a few months before his 18th birthday he soloed in the Tomahawk.
Every pilot remembers their first solo flight, the first time in the plane without an instructor to designate when to rotate or increase airspeed, or when to flair. The autonomy of flight is frightening and equally enthralling; currents of energy, like air, rushing over pilot and plane. However the gain is worth the trial; the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction far exceed any of the fears and doubts.
But flying is not just a hobby for Panter; it’s a state of mind.
“Flying has had a positive impact on my entire life, from social events to fundraising for causes, to business applications,” he said. “Flying has always been a part of my life and I expect that will remain true for as long as I am able to fly.”
Panter left Hollywood for bluer horizons at the University of Michigan, where he continued to fly. Being on a collegiate budget, he contracted with kids from his dorm to further his flying. Together they gathered funds to rent a Piper Warrior for $28 an hour. Incorporating flying and socializing, Panter gave his fellow college students a new perspective for $7 apiece. There was never a time when he failed to find three new ready-and-willings or old-and-steadies to put in for an hour of flying fun. His old log books are filled with the names of University of Michigan cohorts who rose above it all with him.
Years flew by and Panter graduated and went on to law school at the University of Miami. All the while, he continued his aviation avocation. After law school, Panter’s burgeoning career curtailed his flight plans. However, after starting a family with his wife, Wendy, she encouraged him to get back in the pilot’s seat.
The cockpit inspired the couple to create their own crew and five children later flying remains a significant part of the Panter pride and Panter’s professional life. His wife has been a huge supporter of the family’s flying adventures and she is the family expedition executioner.
Panter has flown his family in their Piper Turbo Aztec to Wisconsin, New York, Virginia, Georgia, throughout Florida and to many of the Bahamian islands. The family makes annual expeditions to their home in Highlands, North Carolina.
Panter is a successful trial lawyer and a founder of Panter, Panter & Sampedro. You can check him out at www.panterlaw.com. The firm has six lawyers and 14 other employees that keep the corporate engine running smoothly. They handle all types of catastrophic personal injury claims, including aviation disasters.
Panter, Panter & Sampedro has achieved many multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for their clients, all of whom are innocent people who have been harmed by the negligence of others. Panter has authored numerous articles attesting to the wonders of flight, as well as advisory articles on essential aspects of flight safety.
About 10 years ago, Panter took his flying adventures to new altitudes by training for and receiving his instrument, commercial and multi-engine ratings. He began his multi-engine flight training with a Piper Geronimo built in 1959. Flying the Geronimo that was equipped with a very basic panel, he developed an understanding of his own ergonomics to apply to his multi and instrument skills.
Panter received top-notch instruction for his instrument and multi-engine ratings from retired Delta Captain Ira Leshin. Panter firmly believes in flight training, flying often and training on a simulator to maintain his instrument skills. He currently captains a turbocharged Piper Aztec and has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours. He harnesses the Aztec’s power to commute to clients around the southeastern United States.
Panter’s son Bryce is 16 and has followed the family flight plan. He has recently begun training with the Miami Gliders and is considering a high-flying career. Panter’s daughters also enjoy flying and maybe one day in the future (when there dad gets an instructor’s license) they will elect to get their ratings.
Panter believes in giving back to the country and the community and uses flying as a means for magnanimity. He serves the country by flying for the Coast Guard in Miami (now part of Homeland Security) and he helps the community by offering his aircraft and flying ability for Miracle flights such as transporting needy children from remote locations to receive medical care. Panter also donates flights to the Make a Wish Foundation, Red Cross, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Taylor’s Closet Hope & Love for Girls in Need, Isicoff Memorial Fund, many of the Young Lawyers fundraisers and numerous community charities.