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Head in the Clouds

For flight instructor Max Trescott ’79, a passion became a profession.

By Carol Brévart-Demm


“Anyone who has ever had an interest in flying should stop thinking about it and just go and try it,” Max Trescott says.

When Max Trescott was a boy, the irresistible sound of aircraft flying overhead invariably turned his eyes skyward. The buzz of small planes intrigued him. When he was 10 or 11, he took his first flight, awakening an innate passion that has lasted for 30 years. “Looking down on the world, everything looks so different. I just loved the view from way up there,” Trescott says. “I still do.”

At age 15, Trescott began flying lessons, and, after obtaining a pilot’s license, flew mostly close to his home in Wellsboro, Pa. While at Swarthmore, he occasionally took off from a small airport in Elkton, Md., or from an airfield with a grass runway that no longer exists in New London, Pa.

He once piloted a couple of Phoenix photographers in a flight over the College campus to take some aerial shots of a campus event. Communicating via ham radio with a friend on the ground, he was intercepted by then-head of security George Fisher, who told him that, no, he did not have permission to land on the campus. He remembers thinking, “Well, if I have an emergency, I don’t need permission to land.” (In all his years of flying, Trescott has, happily, never had an emergency.)

Earning a B.A. in psychology in 1978 and a B.S. in engineering a year later, Trescott was hired by Hewlett-Packard, where he served for 25 years in various management positions in sales and marketing, first in northern New Jersey and then at the HP headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., close to where he has lived since then with his wife, Laurie Stearns Trescott ’79, and their two college-aged daughters.

Continuing to fly during nonworking hours, Trescott served for several years as a pilot and also as president of Los Medicos Voladores (The Flying Doctors), an organization that transports physicians and dentists to underserved regions of Mexico, where they provide free treatment.

Once the owner of a Cessna T210, Trescott earned a certified flight instructor rating in 2001 and began to teach flying on weekends. “I’d joined HP always with the thought that someday I’d start my own business,” he says. In 2004, he left HP and became a full-time flying instructor, specializing in the new glass-cockpit planes that had become available around that time—aircraft whose front panels house state-of-the-art computer screens to deliver flight information, replacing the old round numerical gauges. “The glass cockpit airplane is really a perfect complement to someone with an engineering degree who has worked in hi-tech for 25 years,” Trescott says. “It’s just another computer.” For more information, visit

Trescott is the author of Max Trescott’s G1000™ Glass Cockpit Handbook, published in 2006 by his own company, Glass Cockpit Publishing. Currently in its third edition, the book, which explains the systems and features of G1000 planes and how to use them, is distributed worldwide.

“We publish a number of CD ROM training courses as well, but the book is our flagship product. It’s been extremely successful,” he says. Trescott also publishes the monthly on-line Pilot Safety News and writes articles for various aviation magazines. He is a frequent speaker on safety at gatherings of aviation groups and is a safety counselor for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Currently, Trescott spends four to five days a week at San Jose or Palo Alto airports, where he works one-on-one with individuals who are pursuing pilot’s licenses or those who are interested in obtaining advanced ratings. He believes that his training in psychology is helpful in determining how individual students learn best. Although these days he rarely has time to fly for his own pleasure, his passion remains undiminished: “It’s so much fun and really satisfying flying with other people and sharing the excitement of helping them reach their goals,”
he says.

This year, Trescott was named National Certified Flight Instructor of the Year.

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