Nathan's parents were told they would never have biological children so they adopted his older brother in 1977. In early 1980 his parents found out their were pregnant. Everything was going fine until his mother went into labor in mid-August. Nathan was born weighing only two pounds and ten ounces. His dad could hold him easily in the palm of his hand.
A couple of weeks after his birth which in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital, Nathan stopped breathing. After he was revived medical staff was watched very closely. He spent almost a year in the NICU. At a year old he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. A neurological condition where signals to the brain to the body are not received clearly and speech, hearing, eyesight and motor skills can be mildly or even severely effected.
Doctors told Nathan's parents he probably would never roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, run, or drive a car. He underwent nine surgeries before he was ten years old and endured thousands of hour of painful physical therapy. Nathan learned how to walk without support at age nine and learned to ride a bicycle at age eleven.
Growing up in rural South Carolina offered the experience every boy dreams of. Nathan roamed the woods freely and gained an appreciation for nature and the outdoors. His family's home was interestingly underneath Military Operations Airspace known as Gamecock 1 in north-central South Carolina. Seeing aircraft such as the F-16 Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II, OV-10 Bronco, and even the occasional F-15 Eagle or F/A-18 Hornet was routine. Every time there was an airshow at Shaw Air Force Base, which was about an hour and a half away, Nathan's dad would take he and his brother to the show.
The military has always been important to Nathan. Dating back to the United States Revolutionary War, ancestors in the Mackey family have served their county All of Nathan's five uncles on his father's side of the family served in the military. His father deployed to Vietnam from 1969-1970 with the US Army. His maternal grandfather was with the US Army infantry during World War II in the Caroline, Philippine and Solomon Islands. His maternal great-uncle enlisted in the US Navy in 1941 and was an eye-witness to history when he watched the attack on Pearl Harbor from the deck of the USS Pelias where he served as a gunner's mate. Several of Nathan's cousins have served in the Army, Air Force and Navy. His brother-in-law is also a former Marine Sargent.
Having Cerebral Palsy Nathan knew military service was impossible for him. He never considered becoming involved in private aviation until he took a flight in a unique airplane, the Helio Courier, that was owned and flown by a local missionary organization called JAARS. The pilot of the missionary airplane let Nathan sit in the co-pilot's seat since this was his first airplane ride. From the moment the Helio Courier took off, Nathan knew he had found something special. It was a spiritual experience for him as well reminding him that God cared about him and his life.
He started wanting to take flying lessons and also started a website about the Helio Courier since there was not a lot of information about this unusual airplane. At eighteen he began taking flying lessons at a local airport. At nineteen he obtained his unrestricted driver's license and was able to drive himself to his flying lessons.
When Nathan applied for his FAA medical certificate he was denied due to Cerebral Palsy. But through a providential set of circumstances God led him to a retired US Navy flight surgeon, and S-2 Tracker pilot, who helped him obtain his 3rd class medical. God also let him to a Christian flight instructor who was also a Boeing 737 check-airman with then US Airways. Nathan solo'd a Cessna Skyhawk (FAA registration N517DL) in April 2004. Doctors had never considered to mention when he was born that flying airplanes was out of the question in Nathan's future.
Because of his interest in flying and being a devoted Christian, Nathan became interested in the JAARS organization. It wed two of his passions, his faith and airplanes. Through another set of providential circumstances Nathan became a narrator for JAARS' Helio Courier Short Take Off and Landing demonstration.
Later Nathan would become an independent airshow narrator providing commentary for Beechcraft 18 aerobatic pilot Matt Younkin, P-15 demo pilot Scott "Scooter" Yoak, BE-105 aerobatic helicopter pilot Chuck Aaron, and US Navy fighter pilot and astronaut Joe Edwards. Nathan had the awesome opportunity to be mentored by and work alongside legendary airshow narrator Hugh Oldham for a decade. Nathan has also provided narration at the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture Oshkosh on two separate occasions.