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James Horrisberger

Super Dad James H and Son James
Photos by Amy Pezzicara of Pezz Photo.


James Horrisberger spends his days with his head in the clouds—literally. As the chief flight instructor at Tampa Bay Aviation in Clearwater, he says “aviation is in my blood.” He has a passion for golf and loves to fly, but his most important role is being his son James’ dad.

What is the most rewarding part about being a father?
The most rewarding part about being a father is watching the development of my son. His milestones and accomplishments bring me as much joy as he exhibits in attaining them. Whether it is the little things like dressing himself or his ability to remember all the call signs of the aircraft I fly, it is absolutely amazing to watch a child grow.

What is your favorite thing to do with your son?
My favorite thing to do with James is fly. Growing up, my father was a private pilot and my grandfather was a pilot in WWII. Being able to share that passion with my son completes the circle. His curiosity and amazement every time we fly makes me reminisce about my childhood. I clearly remember the first time we flew in a small aircraft, much like I remember the first time my father took me flying and that excitement and wonder of being able to soar into the sky and the tinge of fear in realizing that your life depends on your skill and the aircraft you control.

What is your biggest challenge as a father?
The most challenging part about being a father is time management. Working a full time job, maintaining a home and raising a child takes more time than I ever realized. As with most working parents, the day begins with getting both of us ready to go and taking James to school while keeping my fingers crossed that traffic cooperates so I can get to work on time. When the work day is complete the real job begins, time to pick James up from school, talk about the day, do homework, cook dinner, play for a while and take a bath. Often, by the time James is settled, I’m ready to call it a day myself. The days go by too quickly.

What role model in your life influenced the kind of father you are?
My mother is the most influential person in my life with respect to raising my son. She was a kindergarten teacher and is often my resource for helping my son academically.

As a father, how do you view your responsibilities?
As a father my primary responsibility is raising my son to be respectful and a gentleman. Manners are important to me as well as teaching my son to be kind to others. I want him to be considerate of others’ feelings and know how to handle himself in different situations such as when I take him to my office or we go to a movie or out to eat at a restaurant.

James in plane

Do you have any advice for other dads?
My advice to other fathers would be, do not take a single minute with your child for granted. As with anything else in life, it is hard to realize what is in front of you until it is gone. These years when your child is young go by so quickly, value them; even the simplest moments are precious. Have patience, remember everything your child knows early in his or her life is a product of your actions and be mindful of your actions, children hear and see everything!!

It is often difficult to balance a career with spending time with your family. How do you deal with this and make time for them?
Balancing a career and raising a child is the most difficult task I have ever attempted. Time management is always a challenge.

What is something people don’t know about you?
I was once run over by a tractor while pulling a private plane out of its hanger.

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is not being able to spend time with my son.

What makes you happy?
Spending time with my son. This year he and I went to New York City to celebrate my birthday. We had the best time just sightseeing and being together. He says we should do it every year, so it may become our own private tradition.

Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa?
James and I like going to the beach to watch the sun set.

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