Noland Fellowship awarded to Reed Taws

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Reed Taws ’20 Explores Alaskan Bush Flying with Support from Woodberry.

Flying with Support from Woodberry

Flying with Support from Woodberry

The Noland Fellowship is an opportunity for boys to pursue a life-changing experience before they graduate from Woodberry

The Noland Fellowship was established in 1997 by Noland Memorial Foundation. The program allows rising fifth-form students to engage in independent research projects during the summer that encourage growth in areas of personal interest.

"The Noland Fellowship is an opportunity for boys to pursue a life-changing experience before they graduate from Woodberry," said Ansel Sanders, director of summer programs. "Our students have taken full advantage of these incredible opportunities, and have returned to Woodberry transformed by their Noland experiences and eager to share their learnings with the Woodberry community."

During his time at Woodberry - one of the top boarding schools in the United States, Reed Taws ’20 has been active as a musician, actor, and athlete. He plays bass in the jazz band and in his student band, The Carolina Spice Committee. He’s been the lead in several plays and musicals and also played varsity soccer.

But Reed has also carved out time for another passion — flying. Last year he earned his single-engine pilot’s license, which he calls “the driver’s license of the sky,” and frequently flew back to Woodberry after breaks from his hometown of Southern Pines, North Carolina.

This summer Woodberry helped him take that interest to a new level through the Noland Fellowship, a grant designed to help students pursue transformational academic experiences. Reed spent a month in Anchorage, Alaska training as a sea-plane and “off-airport” pilot. In between his lessons he interviewed Alaskan bush pilots for a documentary and research paper that he will complete this year.

“Alaska has long been known as a place of exploration,” Reed says. “It’s bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined, and aviation is necessary, not optional, because there are so few roads. . . . I was flying Piper Super Cubs. The seaplane-type with floats, and another type with big tires that allowed it to land on sand bars, mountain tops, or other areas where there’s not a paved runway.”

Working from Lake Hood Seaplane Base, the nation’s largest seaplane center, Reed interviewed and flew with experienced bush pilots.

“I got to ask them questions about risk and danger, why they do what they do, and hopefully I can explain this type of flying to people living in what Alaskans call “the lower forty-eight,” Reed says. “There’s a mix of seriousness and of fun in the flying community. At the end of the day, everyone is friendly and knows each other, despite also being business competitors.

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Jennifer Dowling
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