Most days of the week, Kelly Kyle has his feet planted firmly on the ground, whether he is practicing law or serving his community. However, he enjoys the moments in between when his head is in the clouds, literally.
Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree from Louisiana Tech in 1989 and then went on to graduate from law school at Mississippi College.
In fact, his career is what brought him to Mississippi, and he has been practicing law in the Jackson metro since ’92.
Before taking off to college, Kyle followed in his father’s footsteps and earned his pilot’s license.
“I grew up in a big flying family,” he said. “My dad got his pilot’s license in 1945 or 1946. He bought his first airplane for $300 right after he got his license. Throughout his entire life, he either had an airplane or had access to one.”
Growing up, Kyle had a very similar experience.
“So, I grew up in the co-pilot’s seat of an airplane with him from a very early age. It was just kind of a natural progression for me,” he said.
He was still in high school when he began taking flying lessons and took his solo flight at 16. Since the earliest you can get your private pilot’s license is 17 years old, this allowed him to take his check ride and get his license on his 17th birthday.
However, he never had plans to pursue flying professionally.
“It has always kind of been a hobby for me,” Kyle said. “From about that same time, I realized the law was the field I wanted to go into professionally.”
He keeps his plane at the airport in Raymond, just off the Trace. He bought his first airplane, a four-seater, in 1998. The plane he has now is a six-seater Beechcraft Bonanza.
“I try to fly a couple of times a month at least,” he said.
Now, most of his co-pilots have fur and four paws. Kyle flies rescue dogs from foster homes to a rescue group where they can be adopted and given a forever home.
“Before I started flying dogs, I was active with a group called Angel Flight,” Kyle said. “Angel Flight is a group that arranges for transportation for seriously ill people between their home and a distant medical facility where they are going for treatment or evaluation.”
He always enjoyed flying Angel Flight patients, and he also found another opportunity to use his hobby to give back.
A few years ago, he saw online the need for a dog or a dog and some puppies to be transported from one place to the other.
“They were trying to put together this long, multi-stage trip over several hundred miles,” Kyle said. “It was going to be one person driving a 50-mile leg and someone else doing another leg and so on. They were having trouble getting the pieces of that puzzle together and having people commit to every leg.”
Kyle realized that he could fly the dog in the amount of time it would take three people to drive each leg of the trip.
“I got in touch with one of the ladies that was organizing that trip and ultimately she said, ‘I appreciate it but we have this one taken care of but I’ve got another special case that we could really use some help on,’” he said.
That was the first dog rescue flight that he did, and his passenger’s name was Bella.
While there are some groups that Kyle partners with for these rides, this project is something that he does all his own. Sometimes he will work with the group Pilots and Paws, which has a nationwide network.
This spring, he expects a frequent need for the flights.
“The dogs, it doesn’t seem to faze them,” he said of their reaction to flying.
In fact, one of his own dogs, Digger, a little yellow rescue dog that he had for 14 years, often sat in the co-pilot’s seat with him when he would fly for fun.
“It was no big deal to her,” he said. “She would curl up in the co-pilot’s seat and go to sleep and sleep until we were back safely on the ground.”
One of his dogs is a pure-bred Australian Shepherd named Ellie and the other dog, Henry, is one he adopted from a local rescue facility that he has flown trips for before.
“They posted on Facebook about a six-week old puppy and a litter mate that had been abandoned out in Flora, and I said, ‘Ah, we can take that one in,’” he said of Henry.
When he isn’t flying rescue trips, Kyle makes time to take short trips with his partner, Hal Caudell, or family and friends.
“In the aviation world, we have something we call the $100 hamburger,” he said. “That’s just getting in the plane and flying somewhere, maybe not all that far away, but further than you would just get in the car and drive to go eat."
Kyle will occasionally fly out to somewhere like New Orleans for lunch or dinner just for fun.
“There is a great restaurant on the airport at the New Orleans Lakefront airport,” he said. “You can park your plane right in front of the restaurant, go in and have a meal, walk right back out and fly away.”
Another one of his interests is classic cars, which he got into around 2003. He has a 1954 Rolls Royce, which is how his dogs got their names.
“They both have Rolls Royce connections,” he said. “Ellie is short for Eleanor, and Eleanor Thornton modeled for the hood ornament that is on every Rolls Royce, which they call the ‘flying lady.’”
Henry is named for Henry Royce, and he also previously had a German Shepherd named Derby after the little town in England where Rolls Royce vehicles were first built.
Kyle also belongs to a Rolls Royce owners club, which hosts tours in the spring or fall each year in different areas throughout the country.
“If there are any close by, I will take the week off and go,” Kyle said. “I led a tour last April on the Natchez Trace and drove the entire Trace. We had maybe 15 Rolls Royces and Bentleys on that tour.”
He also has a 1988 Bentley, several 1980-90 vintage Mercedes and a ’87 Jaguar.
Every year in October, Kyle shows several of his cars at the car show hosted at the Renaissance.
He also belongs to the Jackson Yacht Club. He just finished a two-year term on the board of directors and currently serves as director on the Jackson Yacht Club Foundation.
“I’m not much of a sailor,” he said. “I have taken the sailing class that the Yacht Club offers. There is some crossover in the aerodynamics of airplanes and sailboats, but I’m still very much a novice sailor.”
Kyle jokes that since he can navigate a car, plane and boat, the only thing missing is a train. So, if you know of any conductor courses…Kyle may be your guy.