While Paragon FCU President/CEO Richard Rays is known for the lofty ideas he has for his credit union, the CEO reaches new heights in the skies. Rays has had his pilot’s license for many years, but between his CEO position and his family, over the years it’s been hard to take to the skies. Recently however he got his chance. His children gave him a gift of flying lessons at a World War II air combat training school in St. Augustine, Florida. Rays flew a T-6 Texan, which was a training aircraft used to train World War II fighter pilots. “We did some aerial maneuvers, spins and rolls, and combat turns. It was just spectacular. It’s a way to really let it all out,” said Rays. His favorite maneuver was the wing over, a long used combat technique that involves climbing the aircraft and at just above stall speed, making a 180 degree turn by applying full rudder in the direction of the turn to “yaw” the plane over until the nose of the aircraft is pointing down in the opposite direction of the original climb. Rays said he was in awe of the power of the T-6 Texan. “It has a huge rotary engine, a tremendous amount of torque and power. We were pulling 4Gs – the power is there,” he said. As a young man, Rays was in the Air National Guard in electronics, but his plans to get his pilot’s license changed as his family expanded. But years later when he did it came in handy during his tenure as a CFO for a New Jersey company that developed a unique crop spraying process. A hands-on CFO, Rays would go to the airport on his lunch hour to test the process in one of the crop planes.

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