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Page Updated
January 27, 2007

Chapter Articles

Young Eagle Becomes Young Pilot

By Bruce St. Onge 

   My very first Young Eagles airplane ride was at Ford Airport about 6 years ago.  The pilot did a very steep bank on my side and I thought to myself,  “I’m not liking this”.   A few years later I decided I would give it another shot, so I went to the 2004 Ford Airport Day for another Young Eagles ride.  During the taxi, run-up, takeoff, cruise, and landing I was continually asking the pilot questions.  When we got done, I thought to myself,  “I like this stuff”.   A couple years passed and Tom Sullivan invited me along with him to an EAA Chapter 439 meeting at NMU Aviation College.  We took His MOONEY ROCKET.

   We took off into an overcast layer.  When we broke out above the clouds I could see the sun just coming up in the morning and it was “so sweet”.  When Dave was giving us a tour around the college aviation shop I saw this huge set of Boeing wheels.  I asked, “where did you get those!?!”  and Dave said that they were there prior to his working there.  I still want them. (editors note; “pay attention Dave”)

   When I was at the Christmas party last year, Tom said he would talk to Terry to see what the costs are for learning to fly.  Later that night Terry talked with me about the rates and suggested I save up the money, then do it.   I told him I  already have the money saved up and he replied, “YOU DO?”  He could not believe it.  He commented that usually kids my age (17) get their paycheck and spend it all. He said, “I’m proud of you for saving your money”.

   Tom and Terry said to contact Kubick Aviation to see if he had gotten a training airplane yet.  I went home that night, excited to start my training. I asked Chad Kubick of Kubick Aviation, “who teaches”?  He mentioned an instructor, Mike Jensen, a C.S.A. Air pilot, and  I gave him a call. My training started with my very first lesson on March 10th 2006.

   Mike said to use one hand on the yoke.  I did not like using one hand, but I got used to that  after a little bit.  After a few lessons we did my first stall.  I started to yell and looked to hang on to anything I could, but there’s really nothing to hold on to in a 150.  Mike said, “I guess you don’t like stalling” and I said “YOU GOT THAT RIGHT”. 

   I started to bring my ground school manuals to school so I could study during any open time     I had.  That annoyed one specific teacher, and she made me put them in my locker.  One of my friends asked her why she was giving me a hard time about the books and she said “He will never become a pilot”.  I thought, “Ok, she will SEE, that’s even a better  reason to finish this.”   When someone says I can’t do it, I become more motivated.

   I started to help Tom with his plane in January of 2006, showing up almost every night around 7:00 pm.  I learned a lot about planes by helping Tom work on his.  I found that you’re putting your life at risk with some awfully small hardware, like the 4 bolts that hold the engine mount on the fuselage.  Tom said he would pay me an hourly rate (after getting up to speed) for helping him with the Lancair but I replied “no, I like doing this.”  Tom came back with “OK, I will apply that money to flight time for getting your license.”   I didn’t argue. 

   I met this guy, Bruce, in Chad’s hangar while waiting for my instructor, Mike.  He asked how I became interested.   I told him about my connection with Tom.  Later that evening I was cleaning my room and found an EAA Young Eagles Flight certificate that was signed by Bruce Rutter in 2004.   I thought, wow!

   I first soloed on June 22nd 2006.  I was not nervous about the flight, but was nervous about the people on the ground observing my crappie landing.  I did three touch and go’s.  About a month later Mike and I were doing some groundwork and he informed  me that  I would need to find a new instructor, he was being transferred to somewhere near Beaver   Island.  I flew with him another week and before he left, Mike signed my logbook to take the written exam.  I scheduled the exam, passed the written and was ready for my next challenge. 

About this same time I was getting ready to go to Oshkosh with Tom.  I had never been there before, it was so cool.

I will never forget that experience.  I was also introduced to a new flight instructor while I was there, Dean Sledge.

   When we came back from Oshkosh, Dean and I started to fly.  We went on a couple cross-country flights. He signed me off for my first “solo” short cross-country flight; IMT-50D-SAW-ESC-IMT.   After another dual cross-country with Dean, he signed me off for my long cross-country IMT-MFI-CWA-RHI-IMT.  That was a LONG TRIP, taking about 3.5 hours in a little 150. 

   Dean started to hound me even more to study the books (Tom had warned me, that as I got closer to the check ride, my instructor would get tougher).  The weather during this time was crap, it took us about a month to complete 3 hrs of flying.  Dean scheduled my private pilot check ride with Duffy in Marshfield for December 19th.

   We arrived at Marshfield and Duffy was running about an hour late.  All I was doing was  pacing back and forth, back and forth.  Dean said to sit down and relax.  Well I was able to sit down for about 30 seconds only.  Duffy came in and I sat next to him. Dean said to Duffy, “do you have any nerve pills for him?” He said, “we’re not going to get nervous, OK”. 

   Everything went well for the oral part.  Nerve-racking though it was. The flying part was easy, but still nerve-racking.  Duffy got out of the airplane,  signed some papers and said, “Congratulations, you’ve earned it.  I like seeing young  people like yourself getting involved in Aviation.  It’s  people like you that keep Aviation running.  We need more young people like you.”  When I  got back everyone was saying good job and congrats.

 

   It was never easy, and you get your share of nagging (and encouragement) from the instructors and fellow pilots to study.   I can say now, it was well worth it.  December 19th of 2006 was one of the most important days of my life.

 

I will never forget that experience.  I was also introduced to a new flight instructor while I was there, Dean Sledge.

   When we came back from Oshkosh, Dean and I started to fly.  We went on a couple cross-country flights. He signed me off for my first “solo” short cross-country flight; IMT-50D-SAW-ESC-IMT.   After another dual cross-country with Dean, he signed me off for my long cross-country IMT-MFI-CWA-RHI-IMT.  That was a LONG TRIP, taking about 3.5 hours in a little 150. 

   Dean started to hound me even more to study the books (Tom had warned me, that as I got closer to the check ride, my instructor would get tougher).  The weather during this time was crap, it took us about a month to complete 3 hrs of flying.  Dean scheduled my private pilot check ride with Duffy in Marshfield for December 19th.

   We arrived at Marshfield and Duffy was running about an hour late.  All I was doing was  pacing back and forth, back and forth.  Dean said to sit down and relax.  Well I was able to sit down for about 30 seconds only.  Duffy came in and I sat next to him. Dean said to Duffy, “do you have any nerve pills for him?” He said, “we’re not going to get nervous, OK”. 

   Everything went well for the oral part.  Nerve-racking though it was. The flying part was easy, but still nerve-racking.  Duffy got out of the airplane,  signed some papers and said, “Congratulations, you’ve earned it.  I like seeing young  people like yourself getting involved in Aviation.  It’s  people like you that keep Aviation running.  We need more young people like you.”  When I  got back everyone was saying good job and congrats.

 

   It was never easy, and you get your share of nagging (and encouragement) from the instructors and fellow pilots to study.   I can say now, it was well worth it.  December 19th of 2006 was one of the most important days of my life.

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