Jeff Earnhart has made his dream into reality this year. On June 19, he became a private pilot, and couldn’t be happier. He has waited a long time for his training to begin, and with some dedication and a few pleasant surprises along the way he made it happen.
While growing up, Jeff’s grandfather would often take him for rides in his Piper Arrow; it was during these formative times when Jeff was inspired to learn to fly himself. However, scholastic responsibilities had to take priority; and throughout his high school and college career, Jeff never had the time to go after his goal. Even after graduation, he was forced to wait. But in the meantime he embarked on a successful career selling tools for the fabrication of marble countertops. His selling region encompasses North and South Carolina and Georgia.
It was in the beginning of this year when Jeff decided it was time to learn how to fly, and he, “just did it”. He enrolled at American Flyers in Atlanta and took his first training flight on May 1. As his training progressed, he remarked that he had not expected flight training to be so enjoyable, that it was “more fun than I thought,” and that before training he imagined it would be “more like work”.
With the earning of his private certificate, he immediately set to work on his instrument rating, and as of the day he gave this interview, he was only a few flight hours away from his check ride.
As he looks ahead, he sees his new skills as a “definite” boon to his career in sales, but as far as a flying career, it’s “just for myself,” although Jeff does have an interest in eventually pursuing a commercial license one day and maybe his instructor license as well. His immediate goal however, is to take his grandfather up for a ride.
In early November, Suzanne Stites became a private pilot. It was the culmination of her work and dedication and she couldn’t be happier. For Suzanne, aviation was something that she, “always wanted to learn,” and it was mostly a matter of setting the time to work. She had some experience from previous years, but never began an outlined training program. However, all that changed in May of this year when she enrolled in the private pilot course at American Flyers. Within two and a half weeks, she had completed most of her allotted flight and ground school time. As she finished her time requirements, she noticed that her flying skills had allowed her to, “think differently,” and in a more dynamic manner, this owing to the highly fluid environment of controlling an aircraft in flight.
Suzanne’s hard work paid off when she successfully completed her private pilot flight test. She called it a great, “sense of accomplishment,” and that her check ride was, “just another lesson where everything came together.” Congratulations on a job well done!
Renee Kerckhoff’s husband was listening as his wife spoke of her dream to fly, and a couple of years ago he bought her a Discovery Flight for their anniversary. Her dream transformed from an abstract wish into a reality that would require steadfast pursuit. In May of 2004 she started taking flying lessons with a young man who, it turned out, was more interested in building hours than seeing Renee achieve her dream. This became a pattern of start and stop through a variety of instructors until she’d accumulated almost 200 hours and still didn’t have her Private pilot certificate.
She called American Flyers during the summer to see what we could do for her. She liked what she heard and decided to wait until she had the time to do everything at once. Ultimately, it took her less than a week to finish her Private. “It was a great experience,”she said.
Husband, Peter, and their two daughters support Renee’s flying ambitions wholeheartedly. Renee was able to take her mother for a flight on her 75th birthday. Even though Mom was a little nervous at the time, now she brags about her daughter the pilot!
Although done with her Private, she’s nowhere near done with her goals. She’s planning on getting glass cockpit training and then she wants to become Instrument rated. All of this will help Renee and Peter achieve an even bigger objective: they want to do a touch and go at every airport in Missouri. Then Kansas. Then who knows where!
Brian Stanton came to American Flyers in the end of September with absolutely no experience. He became a Private pilot in less than 3 months while still maintaining his busy work schedule as an architect. A lifetime dream has been fulfilled, but the long term benefits he will enjoy are far more tangible than the satisfaction he feels at this moment. Brian lives in Dallas, but has his office in Houston. He figures the four hour car trip can be nearly cut in half. He is looking forward to reducing his airline travel substantially. He said, “I missed a flight not long ago, because they wouldn’t let me take my special equipment on board. What was I supposed to do? Leave my expensive equipment at the airport?
Learning to fly has always been a dream of Brian’s. He’s planning on getting his Instrument rating next and looking into buying an airplane. But the first thing he plans to do with his new Private pilot certificate is take his 11 year old son, Taylor, flying. It’s possible Taylor is even more excited than his dad. Brian’s advice to student pilots is to, “Do it in the shortest time. Fly frequently and study regularly. Otherwise you’ll have a fun time flying around, but never achieve your goal.” We’re looking forward to helping Brian reach is next goal.
Dr. Stephen Fletcher is a pediatric neurosurgeon at University of Texas, Houston. He has recently achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. While the dream may have remained a constant in his life, what he plans to do with this accomplishment has evolved into a noble cause. South Texas has a large population of under served medically needy and Dr. Fletcher’s goal is to fly to them and provide medical care they cannot otherwise get.
The dream to fly had been in Dr. Fletcher’s heart since he can remember. Between him and his dream, though, were the obstacles of life: college, children, financial constraints. When the time seemed right, he began his training at an FBO. He accumulated 60 hours and was just ready to take the written exam, when a tragedy occurred in his workplace. He put his dream temporarily on hold. When the time seemed right, he came back to his training, flew another 10 hours and was again prepared to take the written. A partner quit the firm and Dr. Fletcher put his training on hold once more.
Although nearly ready to give up his dream for good, he decided to call American Flyers. A plan was developed to complete his training and the school was able to help him train around his haphazard schedule so he was able to complete his training successfully. Dr. Fletcher has been flying around Texas since earning his Private Pilot certificate and plans to get his Instrument rating in the future.
Imagine landing your airplane gently onto the glassy water of a lake, taxiing up to your dock, tying the dock lines, grabbing your overnight bag and walking the short distance to your front door. Keith Ovitt has wanted to fly a seaplane for a long time. To tie it up at the dock in front of his lake house is the caveat.
Keith has taken a two-week break from his flight training schedule to go to the Glasair Aviation factory in Arlington, Washington where he is building his airplane, the Glasair Sportsman 2+2, a single-engine, 4-seat airplane similar to a C-182. After the airplane is complete, Keith will have to fulfill the FAA requirements for airworthiness certification.
The Ovitt family includes 16 year old Keegan, 19 year old Kalie and wife Vicki. The kids enjoy bringing their friends to the lake house for boating, skiing and general hanging out. Vicki and Keith enjoy entertaining and relaxing. The new airplane will bring an exciting element to their experience this summer.
Seventeen year old Sam Irvine always loved aviation. He fondly remembers his grandfather who was an Air Force pilot and a captain for American Airlines, “My grandpa always encouraged me to fly, if I liked it.” Sam likes it and his whole family has been encouraging him. His Dad, Mom and brother will be the first passengers from his long list of family and friends to get a ride now that he has earned his Private Pilot Certificate.
A senior in high school, Sam is already looking forward to attending University of Illinois or Purdue and being a part of the ROTC program. His grandmother has always told him to get a degree in something other than aviation, so that he would have something to fall back on should ever be unable to fly and it may help secure future aviation jobs. Sam has been listening and though he’s not sure what direction he’ll go, perhaps a liberal arts degree or prelaw, he does know that he wants to be a Navy pilot after college.
Juggling flight training and school work was a challenge, but it was made easier by how much fun flying was… really fun! He advises student pilots, “Stay current. Don’t take time off, if possible.” Sam learned that it’s harder to catch up again, if you let yourself get out of practice.
When he’s not flying, Sam likes to play soccer, hang out with his friends and play disk golf. One of the first things he wants to do with his new Pilot certificate is see Chicago from above. Look up one of these days and you may see him fly by.
Daniel Cutting’s life is going through a series of positive transitions. In August 2007 he graduated from Georgia State University and later that same month he began flight training from zero and is now days away from beginning a new career as a flight instructor. On May 24th he’ll be marrying Laura, the girl of his dreams.
Always having loved airplanes Daniel was very lucky in high school. His older brother Jamal was a flight instructor and would take him flying. Daniel knew this was what he wanted to do as a career. Jamal is now a captain with a regional airline.
“I underestimated how much ground knowledge there would be to learn,” he says. “It’s hard work to do all the studying, but it’s the most gratifying feeling.”
His first solo stands out as the most memorable moment of his training. “The instructor got out of the airplane and as I was rolling down the runway, I realized the only way this is coming out safely is if I do it right!” So he did it right and hasn’t stopped since.
On his journey to discover his passion, Adam Khan often chose paths full of adventure. After high school he enrolled in pre-med, following the cultural expectations of his background. He struggled with it and decided pre-med wasn’t the right choice for him. So he followed the footsteps of his cousin and joined the U.S. Air Force at age 19, working 14 hour days on the flight line in Alaska at minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Though many would have considered those conditions a challenge, Adam considered the experience an adventure. It contributed to the man he has grown to be.
Eventually he went back to college and earned a double major in Business and Sociology. As he was looking into working on his MBA, Adam thought flight school sounded like another exciting adventure. He enrolled in a large school, but found it to be disorganized. After looking into other options he decided on American Flyers. “Don’t waste time at a gimmicky school,” he advised. “American Flyers is structured and got me finished up quickly with a good education.” Adam is now halfway through his Instrument training.
Adam’s family is very proud of him – he’s the first pilot in a long line of doctors and IT managers. His long-term goal is to fly for United Arab Emirates Airline. Then his dream will be fulfilled. What some people may consider challenges, Adam Khan considers adventure.
Air National Guardsman Aims High
Joe Pavela, Jr. recently completed is Instrument Rating in a beautiful red Cessna Cutlass which has been a part of his family since before he was born! Joe’s dad is a long time pilot and couldn’t be happier that his son possesses the passion as well. When he was around 10, his dad let him start flying the airplane. Soloing in his own airplane a few years later is a special memory for him. So was one of their favorite family trips was to Montana. They landed on a mountain strip and, geared up in their backpacks, they jumped right out of the airplane to hike. Joe’s mom and younger sister love to be passengers.
Joe had a few days to finish up his Instrument Rating before heading off to Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona to obtain training for his intelligence job with the Air National Guard. He’ll be heading back to Iraq in the fall, but come next spring, Joe plans to apply for a flying slot so he can live his dream of flying the F-16. Joe’s job is to interface with the pilots so they have all of the information they need to make the mission. When he talks about his work, you can see he loves what he does. No matter where his flying career leads him, Joe plans to be a part of the Air National Guard, flying F-16s out of Madison, Wisconsin’s 115th Fighter Wing.