Gary grew up in Dunn in southeastern Harnett County. As a young child he developed an interest in airplanes. His love of flying sparked an interest in weather.
“It’s almost ironic that I would eventually become a meteorologist,” Gary said. “When I was a small boy, I feared severe thunderstorms. Now as a scientist, I study them.”
After graduating from Dunn High School, Gary began his flight training. He earned his Private Pilot’s license at the Harnett County airport in 1985. His training continued over the next few years. During that time he received his Instrument rating, Commercial Pilot’s license and Multi-engine rating.
He met his wife Lisa in 1986. They were married in 1987 and moved to Asheville, NC in 1988, where Gary began working on his degree in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. While at UNC-Asheville, he interned at WLOS-TV. That internship led to a weekend forecasting job at Christian radio station WLFJ in Greenville, SC and later to a weekend position at WLOS. On his very first day on the job, there was a tornado warning for the area. You could say that his television career got off to a “stormy” start. Gary received his degree a few years later and earned seals of approval from the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. In 1997, he was promoted to Chief Meteorologist at WLOS.
While in Asheville, Gary covered everything from tornadoes, to hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flooding, snow, ice and wind. Two weather events stand out from his time in the mountains. During the March 1993 blizzard he was the first person at WLOS on the air. Gary was featured on a Weather Channel special about the 1993 “Super Storm” in 2001. The second is the 1994 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak.
Gary also got to fly some interesting airplanes while living in the mountains. The most incredible was when he took the controls of the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress “Fifi”. He’s also logged time in a B-17 Flying Fortress, a T-6 Texan, a PT-17 Stearman, a T-28 Trojan and a PT-19. In 1997 he flew with the “Red Baron” stunt team and in February 2000, he went on a “Hurricane Hunter” training mission over the Gulf of Mexico.
Gary has reported on many aviation events since joining Spectrum News, including air shows at Seymour Johnson AFB, Pope AFB and the Fayetteville Airport. He also covered the Centennial of Flight Celebration at Kill Devil Hill in December 2003.
While at the Pope Air Show, Gary got the chance to fly with the Aeroshell stunt team. And while covering the Seymour Johnson air show in October 2003, Gary was selected for a flight in one of the base’s F-15E “Strike Eagles”. During the flight, Gary got to take the controls of the jet fighter and do several maneuvers including aileron rolls and a few high G turns. In October 2004 Gary flew with the 916th Air Refueling Squadron at Goldsboro on a fighter refueling mission over the North Carolina coast. In 2007, he had the opportunity to fly with the Navy’s “Blue Angel” demonstration team. Once again he had the chance to actually take the controls of a jet fighter, this time an F-18 “Hornet”.
Gary also tries to use his experience in meteorology and flying to help others. He received training from the National Weather Service and is now a SKYWARN weather spotter. He is also a member of the North Carolina Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. He’s served as a Public Affairs Officer and a Cadet Orientation Pilot for the Asheville Civil Air Patrol Squadron.
During his free time, Gary likes spending time with his wife, Lisa, and two children, Tiffany and Quentin, their dog, Cassi, a German Shepherd, and three cats (all were strays), Snowball, Wicket and Indie. He also enjoys astronomy, bird watching, model airplanes, air shows, writing children’s books and good Eastern North Carolina BBQ.