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Thread: I want to be a pilot. Any advice?

  1. #1
    rmock's Avatar
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    I want to be a pilot. Any advice?

    I'm Ryan and I'm 13. I'm in Civil Air Patrol and Young Eagles and I want to fly. My plan is to get my Sport Pilot's License when I'm old enough and then upgrade from there. I would like to make aviation my career when I grow up. I want to go into the Air Force Academy and join the Air Force. I still have a lot of time so that might change. Does anyone have any advice for me? I was once told that a good way to get more involved in aviation would be to get to know pilots and their stories. So, what is your story? How did you get into aviation?

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    My parents took me to a local airport when I was really little to watch planes. After that I kept drawing planes (some you couldn't tell were planes, but what do you expect from a little kid?) when I got a pencil or crayon. Fast forward and I was on a vacation in Hawaii where each member of my family took a flight in a Stearman biplane over Pearl Harbor. When we got home from the vacation, I couldn't stop talking about flying.

    My dad suggested looking for a flight school to take some flight lessons and see if I really liked flying. He didn't fly, but he always thought it would be fun and when he was a kid a friend of his got a pilot license. It turned out that an airport 1 mile from my house had a flight school. I would bike there, walk there, get dropped off by my parents, etc any time I could. For lessons, to look at planes, or just to hang out with the airport rats. They seemed a lot friendlier when I was 16 than they do now that I am 25, take advantage of it. If you just go talk to people frequently enough a few will offer you a ride. My first job was washing planes at a local airport. My second job (college internship) was at Cessna.

    Have you looked into gliders? You can solo one of those at 14.

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    rmock's Avatar
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    Thank you skier. I have been in a glider before through Civil Air Patrol. It is extremely different from powered flight, but really fun.

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    MADean's Avatar
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    Ryan,

    The first thing you should do is find, and get involved with, a local EAA chapter. To find one nearby, check out the EAA Chapter locator; http://www.eaa.org/chapters/locator/

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    rmock's Avatar
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    Found one.

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    Anymouse's Avatar
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    Ryan,

    I'll second what the folks above have said (gliders, EAA) and generally hanging out at the local airport if you can. You don't mention where in Florida you are, but if you're in the Jacksonville area, the North Florida Soaring Society is located at Herlong Airfield. That would be a good place to go and get your private pilot training. If you're in west central Florida, Seminole Lakes Gliderport is a for profit school that is pretty good. There are others in Florida, but those are the only two that I'm familiar with. Keep in mind that you can solo a glider at the ripe old age of 14 and get your private pilot license at 16. The skills you learn flying gliders will transfer nicely to powered aircraft.

    You're in a good position with CAP. Get to know some of the seniors there. Especially some of the old farts that have been around since the Wright brothers. They can tell you where to go and how to go about doing stuff. Same goes for the folks at the EAA chapter. Hang out with them. Shoot, help a couple of them if they need assistance with their plane project. They'll definitely appreciate it.

    As for my "story," I started flying at 17 and soloed before I had a drivers license. I paid for my training by working at Dunkin' Donuts. That was back in 1979. A lot has happened between then and now, but three careers later, I finally started flying for a living and haven't looked back.

    Good luck with the academy, or with whichever direction you go.
    I'll come up with something profound

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  8. #8
    JimRice85's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here on the aviation aspect. I'll address your desire to attend USAFA. Study hard and get good grades. The higher the better. Score well on the SAT/ACT (whichever you take...I took both).

    Be involved in school and community activities. Seek out leadership opportunities where you can demonstrate your skills. Run for class president/VP/etc.

    There are lots of Eagle Scouts selected to the Academies because it is considered a great demonstration of your skills. The academies are looking for future leaders. What better way to select them than looking at folks who have demonstrated those traits while still in high school.

    I was nominated for both USAFA and USMA (West Point). When I couldn't pass the military flight physical due to a color vision deficiency, I opted for the Army instead.

    Already having your license won't hurt you, but it doesn't necessarily give you an advantage in the selection process. Certainly continue to pursue your license, but be sure to keep your grades up.

    Jim Rice
    US Army Retired
    USMA 1985
    Jim Rice
    Wolf River Airport (54M)
    Collierville, TN
    1946 Globe GC-1B Swift N3368K
    1946 Piper J-3C Cub N7155H

  9. #9
    Mayhemxpc's Avatar
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    Adding to the excellent comments already posted.

    CAP is a great place to get started in flying. The orientation ride program is an outstanding introduction to flight training...and it is FREE to you. If you can pursue the glider program, do it. My personal opinion is that every aspiring pilot should get some glider time. That is where you learn about FLYING. Add the engine later, which, after all, is just a means of applying thrust. As you get older, set your sights on going to one of the National Flight Academies. It will cost you money, but far less than learning to fly on your own. It is true "immersion training" and in two weeks you should have solo'd. THEN find a CAP instructor willing to take you on and complete your training in CAP aircraft. There are CAP Instructor pilots willing to do it. They will not charge for the instruction (they CANNOT for instruction in a CAP aircraft) and the CAP aircraft are excellently maintained and far less expensive than any civilian flight school. It is unbelievable how many CAP cadets get to solo at one of the national flight academies and then do NOT follow through. Some never fly again!

    Eagle Scout. Absolutely. It will open doors for you for the rest of your life in ways that you cannot imagine. With regard to an appointment to a military academy it is not so much that it will make it easier to get in -- it will be difficult to get in without it. I do not know what the numbers are for the other academies, but 60% of the midshipmen at the USNA are eagle scouts. (Now consider that the female middies cannot be Eagle Scouts, so the number of male middies with Eagle is actually higher than 60%.) Eagle is documented evidence of leadership, responsibility, the ability to manage and complete programs, and indicates the drive to stick with it. Of course, and particularly with the USAFA, getting the CAP Mitchell, Earhart, or Spaatz awards is also very helpful.

    Chris Mayer
    Colonel, US Army Retired
    also CAP Instructor Pilot and Wing Coordinator, Virginia Wing

  10. #10

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    Ryan , if you are 13 and genuinely want to be a pilot, you are off to a great start. There is nothing physically like eyesight or coordination that prevents a teenager from flying. Kids well under that age have flown planes cross country, dual with a CFI , but with the CFI never even touching the controls.
    I know a man in Canada who had a landing strip on his farm, and he owned a Champ that he often flew and he flew it dual with his young Son and was teaching the boy so that one day when he was old enough to be legal ( I think it is 14 there) the boy would get to fly the plane. Well, the Father travelled a bit so was gone sometimes. One time he came back from a trip a day early and as he got close to home he noticed an airplane overhead, and was surprised to see his Champ come in for a nice landing and his 10 1/2 year old Son get out alone. In the end it worked out ok, but that is not the way to do it.
    And even a young person can do the academic part of learning to fly, in fact the book learning is about as difficult as a junior high school course, nothing over your head if you just systematically cover the material. And nowadays I am sure young people are a lot better at school than I was. I didn't have anything against school, it just seemed that football, girls, and sport cars came first and did not leave much time in the day for studying.
    I know that the computer interactive programs, (King or Sporty's or whoever) are much quicker and more focused than the courses I did when I was learning in 1979. And especially if you are a good A&B student in school, you can not only learn it, but do well. There is a lot of truth to the saying if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right, especially when you get to be fully licensed pilot and are responsible for the life of your passengers.
    Yes, flying cost some money and you are lucky if your family can afford to pay for yours. CAP and Young Eagles is a start, but I don't know how far CAP goes if you actually get your license. Canada has a govt program in the summer that let's something like 1000 kids get their glider rating. I wish we would do that here. We could take a fraction on the $50 million recently spent on new uniforms for the TSA and do that easily.
    One more thing you might do, put a note on your local airport bulletin board if they have one, and politely say that you are a young man seeking flying experience. There are many time a plane owner goes up for a local flight and might be willing to take a passenger. Just make sure your dad or instructor or whatever knows how safe the pilot is, don't just jump in with anybody.
    You can solo a glider at 14, and I see kids here who do.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 10-20-2013 at 10:54 PM.

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