MorningSTAR: Steve “Wheels” Weiland, Kings Point
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Name: Steve “Wheels” Weiland
Joined Morningstar: 2017
Home Marina: Kings Point, NC
Fun Fact: Steve is nicknamed “Wheels” after his call sign in the Air Force
Meet Steve, aka “Wheels,” the retired fighter pilot and recovered quadriplegic who’s comfortable captaining everything from airplanes to catamarans to pontoons.
First things first. Where does the nickname “Wheels” come from?
So I was a fighter pilot, and we all had individual call signs…like Maverick & Goose in Top Gun. My call sign was just a derivative of my last name – “Wheels” – I didn’t land with the gear up or anything. Wheels like Weiland (pronounced wee-land).
I won’t ask if the volleyball scene is accurate. Fighter pilot, wow! How’d you get from planes to boats?
So I was an Air Force fighter pilot for 14 years. In the last of my career, I was flying for the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard and I took a job as an airline pilot out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they have the Ohio River. So eventually I married and we bought a boat and started boating up and down the Ohio River – it was so much fun. Then we bought a lake house 60 miles north of Pittsburgh and took our boat up there for about 3 years and then came back to North Carolina, still flying with US Air – I just changed my base, and brought my boat to Lake Norman.
Too cool. So you’re pretty well traveled, I take it?
I was based in England and have flown all over Europe – I was also based in the Philippines and Las Vegas, all over. I became quadriplegic (from November – March of 2014) and when I had surgery to walk again, I got to take my girlfriend to Paris for her birthday and then we went to London and Spain and Bordeaux and Barcelona and Germany.
Editor’s note: how cool is Steve? He also told me that he’s suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused him to lose all feeling in his feet and throws off his sense of balance, but has never let his handicaps, well, handicap him.
You’ve also bareboat captained in the Caribbean, right?
Right – I taught myself to sail. I did everything from 50-ft. monohulls and 45-ft. catamarans – I really liked the catamarans, those were the most fun. Working on a sailboat is extremely laborious though, it’s a working vacation. Mostly, we sailed in the British Virgin Islands, but sometimes St. Maarten or St. Kitts and the USVI.
Sounds like the life! Speaking of the life, where are you when you’re not using your boat on Lake Norman?
We’re snowbirds, so we live on an island half the year just north of Palm Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, right across the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s really nice. And it’s nice to know our boat is taken care of and protected since we only use it for 5 months out of the year. Morningstar makes it possible for us to boat – especially since I’m almost 70 and handicapped and really can’t put my biminis up. The deckhands take me down to the boat in a cart and they’ll always help me get in – the service is just impeccable.
Aw, shucks. You’re making us blush.
Pretty inspiring, huh? If you’re at Kings Point and see Steve around, thank him for his service and see if he’ll share one of his travel, sailing or flying secrets with you.