Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a 73-year-old, mostly retired, oral surgeon. I still practice part time in the Cleveland, Ohio area. I enjoy bicycling, skiing, and of course aviation. I presently live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I presently own a TBM 700C2 and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2 that I built.
How did you get into flying?
I had two pilot friends that talked me into purchasing a condo with them many years ago in Treasure Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. I had always had an interest in flying but my grandfather was killed in a commercial plane crash in 1948, and my parents were afraid of flying. The condo was difficult to get to commercially, but my partners in the condo were able to use general aviation to get there easily. I decided to try flying lessons to see if I would really like it. I was instantly hooked. Within three months I had my private pilot license, my instrument rating in six months, and I purchased a Piper Saratoga for our family.
Tell us how you went about choosing a flight school.
I wanted to get a commercial license this past year to enhance my credentials and help with insurance. There is a great deal of difficulty for pilots over sixty-five, and especially over seventy, with getting insurance.
What made you choose American Flyers?
I contacted many flight schools to find out what school would best fit my requirements. American Flyers had a great inventory of aircraft, in-house mechanics to keep the aircraft flying, and many qualified instructors. They were also willing to design a program that would give me the opportunity to complete my commercial training in a condensed format. Other schools offered a condensed format, but they did not have the inventory of aircraft or instructors. I was concerned that if I traveled to a school that only had one or two aircraft, if something broke I would be out of luck. If an instructor was ill or if we did not relate, I would again be out of luck.
How much outside studying did you have to put in during your time with AF?
I had completed my written exam prior to attending American Flyers. I was able to fully immerse myself in the program at American Flyers because they had excellent instructors that were readily available. The days consisted of ground school and flying. In the evenings, I would review what was done that day and also do a bit of outside reading on the material.
What is your most memorable moment at American Flyers?
There were several memorable moments, and I feel that I was able to make new friendships with the instructors, staff, and other students. The school atmosphere was like a family and everyone was delightful to be around. Being able to “ring the bell” signifying completion of the oral exam and the checkride was another memorable moment.
Looking back, what advice would you give someone interested in starting pilot training?
When you decide to take the leap, make sure that you are fully committed to the process. It is important to try and fully immerse yourself so that you maximize your education. I have found that if you only train occasionally, with gaps in between, the learning curve is challenging.
What’s next for you?
I have successfully gotten the insurance that I was hoping to get as a result of the advanced rating. I am considering getting additional ratings to enhance my abilities and remain insurable and a safe pilot.
If you could fly anywhere, go to any flying destination, where would it be?
Iceland is on my bucket list. I am considering a flying vacation there.