For the first time in my life I can say with confidence: I'm on my way to become a FAA licensed Private Pilot. Having close to 4 sporadic hours logged Brenda decided to skip the introduction flight and go right to the real flying. We preflighted (she actually let me do stuff unlike my previous flight school), started the aircraft, taxied, held short of the runway for blasting (blowing up the hillside to make minimums at CRW better across the board), and took off. About 15 minutes into the flight Brenda looks at me and says: to have less than four hours I'm seriously impressed, this is going to be easy. We flew to Gallia-Meigs in Ohio. Brenda hopes to solo me in 10 hours and if I buckle down with the book work I can be a private pilot by September! I have to get my 3rd class medical and per the FAA site diabetes won't get in the way. I'm prepared to fight tooth and nail for my medical and trust me, I will. I've never been more excited in my life with flying related things. I'm finally following what has seemingly been a lifelong dream and becoming a pilot. We fly next Saturday (weather permitting) and ever Saturday after that. Thank you to everyone that has helped me along this road so far!
I've come to the realization that unless something cool happens in my life there really isn't a reason for a blog post. A post a day is difficult to write when I have homework and I like the old term, quality over quantity. I want to take this time to tell a story and share some updates.
As I walked into the multimillion dollar FBO at Yeager Airport my first thought was: this will be interesting. Why was I walking into the FBO, who was I with? Questions like that require some background information. My neighbor, Austin, isn't your A/B honor roll student. In fact he's currently failing three classes. His mom, Tammy, wanted something he could do that would motivate him to being his grades up. Austin is a shy kid until you get to know him. I've known him for almost two years since he moved into my cousins (now mine as well) neighborhood. While Austin didn't say much at first I always got the inclination from him that he wanted to be a helicopter pilot. Tammy had been talking to my mom for a few days about making Austin take flying lessons and asked if I wanted to go to. When my mom asked me if I wanted to go I of course said yes. It was our spring break so an excuse to go to the airport made me happy.
Taking Austin to look at the flight school was set to be a surprise, the rouse? Tell him he had an orthodontist appointment. I got in the car and once Austin realized I was there he said, "Wait. Why's Jay here?" Tammy told him I had an appointment right after his and that my mom was busy and couldn't take me so that's why I was going with them. We were to be at the flight school at 1:00PM and the fact that Dingus (Dingus is Austin's nickname from his half brother, it's a combination of dingy and ass. Myself and the other neighborhood kids took to calling him that as well.) was up and showered was nothing shy of a miracle considering it was spring break. We started up the hill for the airport and Tammy quickly told Dingus we had to swing by the tax office to pick some documents up before his appointment. We drove past the sign for the flight school; Austin read the sign aloud word for word and remained oblivious to the fact that we weren't going to the orthodontist. The FBO at Yeager has quite a few buildings, unsure of where to go Tammy asked me. I pointed to the Executive Air terminal and said, "Go to the red awning." "Boys stay in the car, I'll be right back", Tammy said. Tammy walked in to 'get her tax papers' as Austin and I sat in the car. Austin started to show genuine concern of missing his 1:30 orthodontist appointment. Tammy came back to the car and asked us to go with her as it was going to take longer then she expected.
Austin and I followed Tammy into the terminal, at this time I was putting my airport ID on. We walked up to a couch where we met Brenda and Ernie. Brenda was going to show is around. A married couple that runs the flight school, Ernie and Brenda seemed pretty cool. Austin didn't know what to think. Tammy informed him this was his orthodontist appointment. He finally caught onto to what was really going on. Tammy introduced us to Brenda. Brenda seemed to be a very like able person from the get go. She asked Austin and I if we wanted to go look at the plane, it was a Cessna 172. I’ve sat in countless 172s and have flown a few of them. Austin was hesitant to walk out on the ramp at first and when asked if he wanted to sit in the plane he didn’t seem all that interested. Austin approached the plane with great caution; he reached the left wing strut and stopped. “Walk around or duck under it” I told him. Dingus made his way into the cockpit and at that point he smiled. I don’t think he caught the aviation bug; however, I think his interest level in flying doubled.
When I went with Austin and Tammy I honestly had no intention of signing up to start taking flying lessons. Brenda quoted me for $6,500 for everything to my private pilots license. It was really inspiring to know that for almost half of what I though it was going to cost that I could pursue what has more or less been a life long dream. Looking back now I was hesitant to sign up for lessons, as I knew my parents would have to help me pay for my training. Today I remembered a quote from literally the dumbest movie I’ve seen, 21 & Over. The quote, “just f@$% it, I’m going to live my life.”
Austin and I are going to start taking flying lessons this Friday flying from Yeager Airport (KCRW) to Big Sandy Regional Airport (KSJS). I’m flying the leg up while Austin flies the go home leg. The best part about training with Austin is that we each will get an extra hour of observing. While we can’t log this time the knowledge gain will be huge. The flight school also offers ferry flight opportunities for free hour building once I get my solo certificate (hopefully in 2-3 months). I’m excited for this new journey to begin as I embark on my newest adventure in life and pursue a lifelong dream. Flying updates to follow so stay tuned!
Jay Haapala officially caught the "Aviation Bug" in 2007. He's 17, a Senior in High School, an Eagle Scout, Airport Intern, Type One Diabetic, and an FAA Licensed Private Pilot. He refuses to let Diabetes stop him from living out his dreams and hopes to find himself in the cockpit of an airliner, burning jet fuel for a living.