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Aspens from above

Love of flying never fades for Bob Shiley

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September 15th, 2016
Moving to maintenance-free living at Wind Crest freed up Bob Shiley to purchase a Cessna 172 and hanger. When he’s not taking off from Centennial Airport, he serves his community as president of Wind Crest’s Resident Advisory Council.

Moving to maintenance-free living at Wind Crest freed up Bob Shiley to purchase a Cessna 172 and hanger. When he’s not taking off from Centennial Airport, he serves his community as president of Wind Crest’s Resident Advisory Council.

In autumn, when the aspen trees turn a brilliant gold and the Colorado Rockies take on a sun-kissed hue, people travel from far and near to view the splendor as they wind through mountain passes or hike the state’s myriad trails.

But Bob Shiley takes a different view. From his Cessna 172, he glides over and through the mountainous landscape like a golden eagle, taking in fall’s colorful performance. 

In fact, in 63 years and over 2,000 hours of flight time, it’s become his favorite skyward destination. “I suppose my favorite place to fly over is the Rocky Mountains in the fall when the aspen trees turn a brilliant gold and red. The town of Aspen is filled with aspen trees and is just gorgeous,” he says.

Having become proficient in mountain flying by instructing and guiding other pilots, as well as running a guest ranch for pilots in Wyoming with his wife, he now heads out weekly with a flight partner. 

They take off from Centennial Airport in Englewood, Colo., where he keeps his Cessna in a hangar. It’s just 20 minutes from his home at Wind Crest, an Erickson Living community in Highlands Ranch. They fly over Colorado, Nebraska, and into Wyoming sometimes, he says.

While he certainly enjoys the view, Bob most appreciates the intricacies of flying.

“Flying requires your full attention, and you have to be very precise not only in the flying techniques you use but how you interact and interrelate with other air traffic and other people,” he says.

Neighborhood network

“Flying seems to attract a certain kind of a person, and we all get along really well,” he adds. 

In fact, earlier this year, he and about 17 neighbors formed a retired pilots group at Wind Crest. For their first outing, they had breakfast at Centennial Airport. In the spring, they toured the Peterson Air & Space Museum in Colorado Springs. In June, they toured Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. 

The club includes several female pilots, one who lives just two doors down from Bob. 

But he doesn’t restrict himself to mingling with pilots. Bob says one of the greatest joys about living at Wind Crest is meeting so many friendly and intriguing people. 

“The people who live here are so interesting,” he says. “They have every background you could imagine. You run into army generals who are retired and people who have owned their own businesses, people who worked for major corporations and rose in the ranks, doctors, and lawyers. It’s fun to visit with them [at Wind Crest’s restaurants] and become friends with them.”

That’s one of the reasons Bob moved to Wind Crest back in November 2014. Living in a house had become lonely, and he wanted to stay socially engaged. 

“I just thought living with about 800 other people would give me lots of opportunities to make new friends and ensure I always had someone to eat meals with and give me lots of fun things to do.”

In January 2016, he joined the Resident Advisory Council (RAC) as president elect, which he served as for six months before assuming the role of president. The RAC acts as a liaison between community members and Wind Crest management. It provides them a voice to address issues and give feedback through various committees, such as dining services, general services, and resident life. 

Bob says the role was a natural fit. “I was president of a company for 30 years. It was a company that started out very small and ended up quite large, kind of like Wind Crest,” he says.

As the community continues to add new residence buildings and welcome more community members, Bob’s network of neighbors and activities will continue to grow. And that makes him even more sure about his future. “You feel safe about the long-term future of living here. You don’t worry about whether Wind Crest will be in business in the future because it will,” he says. 

Bob also feels safe on a daily basis thanks to Wind Crest’s gated entrance, round-the-clock security team, and on-campus medical center staffed by full-time physicians. 

“Moving here has been a very good decision,” he says.

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