Columnist discusses his journey of becoming a pilot.
BY GEORGE BERNARD ‘23
I am nearing the end of my starting checklist:
Parking Brake…………… SET
Battery/Alternator ……… ON
Fuel Pump ………………. ON
Fuel Pressure ……… CHECK
Mixture ……………… RICH
Magnetos …………… START
The starter engages, turning the engine as the spark plugs ignite the fuel entering the cylinders. The engine roars to life and I disengage the starter, raising the engine to 1000 RPM. I radio the ground controller requesting to taxi to the runway; today I will be using 27L. They grant my request, and I taxi to the runway. A short while later, the tower controller clears me for takeoff and I turn onto the runway and push the throttle to full power.
I accelerate down the runway, watching my airspeed increase while keeping the plane on the center of the runway, 40, 50, 60, I pull back on the yoke, lifting us into the air. I pitch the plane to maintain 75 miles per hour, my best angle of climb. I climb to 6500 feet above the ground and I level the plane and bring the power back to begin our cruise, speeding along at 125 mph across the ground.
I have been interested in aviation since I was a little kid. When I decided that I wanted to become a pilot freshman year, I made a plan for how I would pay for it and when I would begin flight training. I got a job and saved nearly every dollar. After saving a substantial amount of money, I began flight training in January 2021. I flew in a plane with nobody else in it for the first time in February. I was 16 at the time and didn’t even have my driver’s license yet. I continued to study and work hard at flight training and I got my Private Pilot Licence on October 2, 2021, shortly after I turned 17.
Upon getting my license, I took a break from training to fly family and friends for a few months. After a few months, I decided to begin pursuing an Instrument Rating, which allows me to fly in poor weather conditions. I continued to fly for fun, but focused my efforts on my new goal. When I got Instrument Rating in November of 2022, I once again took a break before pursuing a Commercial Pilot License, which I got at the beginning of May.
The best way I can describe flying an airplane is to say that it is very enjoyable work. It is far from easy and requires a lot of planning, attention to detail, quick thinking, and decision making skills, yet it remains fun and rewarding. Different destinations, weather, and passengers make each flight uniquely challenging.
The process of becoming a pilot is the most defining part of my life thus far. Although most people will not become pilots, the lessons I have learned are still applicable to everyone. Rather than giving a long winded lecture on rules for success, I will boil it down to a checklist, much like the ones I use when flying:
Passion …………… SECURE
Goals ……………… OBTAIN
Confidence ……… ENGAGE
Attitude ………… POSITIVE
Life ……………… ENJOY