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The Flying Interview:

SPN's Featured Pilot: A Memorable Flight Pilot Interview

On a wonderful day in the middle of a Minnesotan winter, I decided to fly through the clear skies while they lasted. I asked a friend to come along and enjoy the ride. We loaded up on a Piper Warrior, with my instructor, Greg, beside me and my friend in the back seat, and off we went.

We flew West for a while, practicing turns and stalls, and then I asked Greg what would happen if I just let go of the plane. He laughed and told me the plane would level off. Since I had not clocked many flying hours at the time, I did not believe him. I had this notion in my mind that under those circumstances the plane would come straight down, crash-land, and we would be doomed!

Greg looked at my disbelieving face and said, "You don't believe me do you? Then watch this!"

At that very moment, he increased the throttle and climbed us up to about 4000 feet. Then he let go! I froze in my seat while my eyes focused on the rate at which objects on the ground were getting closer. Panic set in, but just as fast as it hit me, it bounced off me. The plane stabilized and leveled off by itself. Yes, all by itself! I could not believe what I just witnessed, but Greg and my friend got a chuckle out of it and Greg demonstrated the same thing a few more times.

Now, some 24 flying hours later, I can say without a doubt, that my first flight was an awakening and wonderful experience, but this particular flight stands out as one which amazed me! It gave me confidence in the plane and physics, leaving me thinking, "So, this is what the plane will do? Wow!"

SPN's Featured Pilot: Pilot Interview

Q: When did you initially become interested in learning to fly?

It is difficult for me to pin point an actual moment, since I have wanted to soar like a bird as far back as I can remember. However, the spark that ignited the fire was the movie about Charles Lindbergh's famous trans-Atlantic flight. His passion and determination moved me! Right after the movie, I went to a bookstore and looked up information about Lindbergh and aviation. Then I visited two flight schools listed in the Yellow Pages and thus, began my journey.

Q: What are your aviation goals?

I am interested in aviation from a purely recreational standpoint, however, I would like to take this further and fly an executive jet and perhaps, even organize tours.

Q: When did you start learning to fly, at what school and in which aircraft?

My first flight was on December 3, 1998 at Thunderbird Aviation, and I have been flying several times a week since then. I have flown a Diamond Katana and a Piper Tomahawk, but I mainly fly a Piper Warrior.

Q: What was the most important factor in choosing the flight school you attend?

There are several important factors involved in choosing a flight school, but I considered location and rapport with an instructor to be very important.

Q: How many flight hours do you currently have and what certificate or rating are you working towards?

I have approximately 15 hours flight time logged. My aim is to get the Private Pilot Certificate within the next two months and then go further.

Q: Has learning to fly been what you expected?

In my opinion, learning to fly and flying are different experiences! I did not realize there were so many technicalities and factors involved in flying a single-engine aircraft, however, I am not discouraged, but rather, I am challenged to work harder.

Q: What do you enjoy most and least about flying?

I enjoy being several thousand feet above the ground, gliding as if I were a bird flying with freedom in unlimited space. I was a little frightened by landings and did not enjoy the touch down, but practice has renewed my trust.

Q: What has been your biggest obstacle in learning to fly and how are you/did you overcome it?

The weather here in freezing Minnesota has been my biggest obstacle, but I continue to grit my teeth and plod forward unless it is several degrees below zero. The thought of the heater in the aircraft is very comforting.

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out?

I suggest you think about where you want to go and how. It does not have to be a commitment in stone, but a plan of some sort is an asset in the long run. Locating a school in a convenient location saves you driving time, and if they have several planes you can operate on a flexible schedule. Trust is important, so pick an instructor you feel comfortable with on the ground and in the air. Headsets with ANR protect your hearing, so spend the money. Combining what you read in your texts with what your instructor teaches you and what you practice, makes the entire flying experience whole!


This article was prepared for the Student Pilot Network's "Featured Student" section March 1999 www.studentpilot.net


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