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Titans LB Patrick Bailey Licensed to Fly

Posted Aug 26, 2013

By Isis Freeman, For Titans Online

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — While Titans linebacker Patrick Bailey is not fond of folding his large frame into a cramped cockpit, he does so knowing that the freedom of the open sky awaits.

Bailey has always enjoyed being up in the air, so much so that he earned his recreational pilot’s license in 2009 and has enjoyed every time he’s left the constraints of the ground since.

Although his opportunities are limited, Bailey looks forward to every chance he has to cram his 6-foot-4, 243-pound frame into the snug cockpit of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk or a Grumman Tiger (single-engine, four-seat planes).

“The plane is a confined space, especially in those with a single propeller,” Bailey said. “I have just enough room for my legs. I would not want to sit behind me!”

While getting into the plane is a struggle, Bailey finds the view and the feeling of the open sky rewarding.

“I like the challenge of it. I like going up in the air. It’s kind of an interesting feeling,” Bailey said. “It’s kind of like driving, but you can go any direction, see everything from up above with a bird’s eye view of most of the cities.”

Bailey’s decided to pick up the hobby has been in his family for generations. His great grandfather, Leonard Kennel, was a pilot in the first U.S. Navy squadron to make the trans-Pacific journey in a plane and his father, also a pilot, used to take Bailey up in the air quite a bit during his childhood. It is a tradition that Bailey hopes to continue one day with his newborn son, Beau, but will not push.

“I’m big into letting kids do what they want to do, what they’re interested in. The only thing I’m big on is that you have to finish what you start.”

For Bailey, continuing the family tradition required more than a piloting lineage. In order to acquire a recreational or private pilot license, one must pass both a written knowledge test and a practical flight test, as well as log a certain amount of practice hours with a licensed pilot. Needless to say, an immense amount of work and understanding goes into taking flight.

A pilot has to question every possible variable that can affect the air, the plane itself, and himself. Piloting requires constant re-evaluation and complete awareness. The routine sounds stressful, but fellow linebacker Colin McCarthy isn’t surprised that Bailey can smoothly handle such tasks.

“He went to Duke. Everything with Patrick has to have an explanation, and one that makes sense to him or he’s going to question it,” McCarthy said. “It shows that he can sort space and time. He understands the logistics of things. He obviously knows how to study.”

Bailey’s good study habits were not only beneficial in gaining his pilot license, but are still applicable to his time with the Titans. Bailey is the type of player who studies quite a bit off of the field, so that instinct and memory are able to take over while on the field.

“You have to always think ahead (when in the air). The more you know ahead of time, the better off you are at the time when things go down,” Bailey said. “That’s the same in football. If you know where everybody else is fitting around in the defense you know where your help is. If you already know that information, then it’s just an instinctual reaction to go and hit that guy.”

Patrick Bailey has enjoyed sharing his hobby of flying with his wife Maggie and dog Franklin.

There are some concepts, however, that cannot be conveyed properly in textbooks and manuals. For example, Bailey depends heavily on practice and skill to accomplish the challenge of reaching solid ground. 

“Landing is the challenging part of flying. You always want to have that perfect landing where you don’t even feel touching the ground. You just want to float into it, let the wheels touch down, and just kind of stop.”

Such a landing is no small feat. A smooth landing takes precision, patience, and practice, which are traits that help him play linebacker. Bailey started in place of strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers against Atlanta on Saturday and is likely to do the same at Minnesota.

Now entering his sixth season, the linebacker remains dedicated, self-reflective and eager to learn. His willingness and fervor to embrace the challenges of the air clearly translate over to his work on the field, and linebackers coach Chet Parlavecchio has noticed.

“Patrick (Bailey) is what you call a consummate professional,” Parlavecchio said. “He understands his strengths and limitations as an athlete, as far as certain technique, what he does well, and what he doesn’t well. And he makes a point to strengthen his weaknesses and make his strong points stronger and that’s the sign of a good professional.”

“You can’t not love Patrick Bailey,” Parlavecchio continued. “He’s the kind of player that you wish that every player you had had his dedication and his heart. He’s just that kind of kid. Sounds like you’re almost dealing with a boy scout, reliable, trustworthy, but he really is. He’s that kind of kid.”

Parlavecchio’s trust, however, has gravitational restrictions.

“Let me put it to you this way. I love him and I think he’s the most reliable, trustworthy young man I’ve ever met, but ain’t no damn way I’m getting in that plane with him! Ain’t going to happen! Forget about it. No way.”

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