TAKES FLIGHT INSPIRATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Smile 6-7 10
From High School Athlete to First Officer 14-15 Flying Mustangs- Las Colinas Aviation Club 16-17 Have You Ever Dreamed of Flying? A NYC Student's Story
Soaring to the Future 22-23
You’re Invited to the Aviation Career Summit! 24-26
Flying to Surf 28
Pathway: Meg Cobb 30-31
The Reno Air Racing Association is Full Throttle in 2022 32-35
Profile: Sunshine Dickson 38-39
How to Become a Crop Duster 40-41
Cayenne Gutierrez Pietenpol Project 42-43
AviNation exists to attract, educate and empower youth in aviation. AviNation magazine strives to give readers insight into the future of aviation by focusing on aviation students, programs, events and innovative approaches to the promotion and continued growth of the aviation industry.
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AnnieBy Nick Poucher
Lakeland Aero Club Competes in its First Soaring Competition
The Lakeland Aero Club high school soaring team competed in their first official competition in August, traveling to Waller, Texas. Three members of the soaring team made the trip from Florida to demonstrate what young aviators are capable of. The team was led by 16-year-old captain and competition pilot Steven Tellman. While the first few days of competition did not provide favorable conditions, the team continued to do their best to push themselves while remaining safe. During two days of the competition, Tellman was able to complete the entire course and on the final day of competition was able to score 924/1000 points. Following five long days of competition, the Lakeland Aero Club Soaring Team finished near the middle of the field in seventh place. The team was happy with how the first competition went and are excited to continue improving in future competitions as they build more experience with the DG-400 aircraft and competition soaring.
GIVE YOUR CAREER A LIFT EXPLORERS WANTED
Are you ready for an adventure? LIFT Academy, owned and operated by Republic Airways, is a proven flight program that allows students to attain their aviation career goals. We offer affordable, accelerated flight training for future pilots and aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) in state-of-the-art facilities.
Along with experienced and dedicated instructors, LIFT offers:
A direct pathway to becoming a pilot for Republic
The most technologically advanced aircraft in flight training
Career opportunities in less than two years
We’re looking for explorers from all walks of life — high school and college grads, former military, career changers and anyone who wants to take their career to new heights. If you have the skill and the will, we can’t wait to meet you!
Smile Only Gets BIGGER If
Airventure 2022, was the last words I called over the radio after departing runway 29 from Burlington, Wisconsin. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining, and the plane was all shiny ready to be displayed at the Teen Build area at AirVenture.
I had the Dynon loaded with the flight to Endeavor as our point of entry into what is known as the big conga line to the airshow. 1800 feet, 90 Knots, and 1 mile in trail were the words from the air traffic controller at Fisk. I continued to fly “Falcon 2” towards Fisk awaiting my call from ATC. Then I heard it, “Silver and black low wing rock your wings, Good rock”. Game on! It just got real and so did my energy level. We were assigned runway 36. We turned to follow the road into Runway 36. Passing over the highway, the ultralights were using a grass strip with the same heading. We flew directly over three of them as we continued to Runway 36. Then I got the call, “Silver low wing cleared to land 36 Left, land past the orange dot”. My approach and speed were on target. The aircraft ahead of me was no factor. Now I just needed a perfect landing because 10’s of thousands of people were watching, no pressure…. I have made it this far. Green dot, white dot, here comes the orange dot, 20 ft,
10 ft, 5, 4, 3, 2, touchdown about 3 feet past the orange dot. No time for a pat on the back, “Silver RV make a left turn into the grass”, said the controller. We made it… Airventure 2022.
We then proceeded under the guidance of the ground marshals to our designated parking spot out front of the Tailwind Café which is located adjacent to the Homebuilt hangar. After securing the plane, we took the long hike to Camp Scholler. There, I met the other people in our party from Eagle’s Nest Projects Wisconsin (ENP WI).
ENP WI is a high school program in which we build and fly a Vans RV-12. Although we just finished our third plane, I flew our second completed plane, the Falcon 2 into Airventure. ENP WI has built three planes and has produced over 16 pilots. It is an amazing program. Please check out the website www.falconaviation.org.
The week at Airventure was great. The highlight of my time at Airventure started when the Director of the Eagle’s Nest Projects Wisconsin, texted me and a fellow student Austin Dawson that he had “Scored” a ride with the Phillip 66 Aerostars. I was shocked and quickly made it back to Falcon 2 to meet with him, to clarify his message. Wow, it was true, Saturday morning at 8:00 am, I was going to be in an Extra 300L. This will be my first time in an aerobatic plane and the first time I will go upside down in an airplane. I was super excited.
The next day, I flew Falcon 2 to the Appleton Airport for the ride and experience of my life. As I was taxiing to the FBO, I heard the tower clear the Aerostars for a two-ship formation takeoff. Some other extremely lucky person was also getting a ride of a lifetime. After securing Falcon 2, I got to the FBO to meet the Phillips 66 support team.
You Turn It UPSIDE DOWNBy Travis Senft
They were super nice and extremely happy to provide this experience to young aviators like myself. After talking with the team for about 20 minutes, I saw a pair of Extra 300’s taxi to the FBO. The excitement and adrenaline were starting to flow. I am sure the smile was already on my face.
I was going to fly with “Rocket” aka Captain Pual Hornick. We started a conversation talking about flying and about the Eagle’s Nest Project Wisconsin program. He was happy to see that the ENP WI provides an opportunity for young students to earn their pilots license. He also talked about his experience and about his son becoming a pilot through a military program. It was a great conversation, but truthfully, all I was thinking about was the Extra 300. I am going flying in an Extra 300 in formation, I am so excited.
The other plane was captained by the “Fossil” Garry Molidor. He was also super nice and shared his aviation background and experience with me. As we walked out to the planes, I had a big smile on my face. This is super cool, I kept telling myself. After our safety briefing on how to eject out of the plane, I climbed in the front seat of Rocket’s Extra.
Shortly after cinching down my seat belts super tight, the Exra’s 300 HP engine roared with life. There was no swiping this smile from my face at this point. After a short taxi to runway 27, we started our formation takeoff roll. Wow, we were off the ground quick and climbed out to the west.
The first maneuver was a positive 3 G loop. It was great to feel the power of the plane pushing through the loop as we reached the top. Over the
top, screaming down into a negative 1 G acceleration and then pulling back hard to round out the loop at the bottom. That was amazing and my first-time upside down in a plane.
The next maneuver was a barrel roll around the lead ship. This was super cool as I watched Captain Paul circle his plane around the lead ship. Before heading back, we did a few aileron rolls. The Extra can snap roll amazingly fast.
On the way back to the airport, Captain Paul let me take control of the Extra and taught me how to fly in formation. This is super cool because he is a certified flight instructor, I received flight training in the Extra, and got an endorsement in my logbook.
This was an amazing experience; I am so blessed that Captain Paul and Captain Gerry took the time to introduce aerobatic flying to me. I am hooked. Both Rocket and Fossil live not too far from my home airport in Burlington, Wisconsin. You can bet I will be flying down to see both of them and maybe give them a ride in a RV-12.By Matt Ferrari
Colonel Sabrina “Poco” Pabon
Great test pilots and flight test engineers aren’t born, they’re made. They’re made at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California. Colonel Sabrina “Poco” Pabon is the Commandant of the United States Air Force Test Pilot School, taking command of TPS in July of 2020. While addressing the audience during the change of command ceremony, she found herself almost in disbelief, looking out from the same stage that she crossed nearly 25 years before when she graduated from Desert High School at Edwards AFB.
Her father was a career enlisted man serving 26 years in the USAF and Sabrina was born at March AFB California. She grew up in an Air Force family, moving around as her father’s military assignments changed throughout his career. Just prior to her junior year of high school, her father received a new assignment and her family moved to Edwards AFB. After graduating from high school, Sabrina was accepted into the University of Notre Dame, where she completed the Electrical Engineering program and earned a Bachelor of Science degree on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. After graduating, she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force on July 2nd, 1999. Her plan was to stay in for just the four years that she owed the Air Force in repayment for her ROTC scholarship. Some 23 years later, her Air Force story continues, including more than 800 military flight hours as a senior officer aircrew member in some 40 different types of aircraft as a flight test engineer and instructor flight test engineer. When asked if she has a favorite aircraft, not having to think long about it she answered with a smile, “Probably the Black Hawk helicopter, and the F-16!”
Throughout her career, she has continued to develop herself professionally and advance her education by completing multiple professional military courses of study, as well as earning a Master of science degree in Electrical Engineering from Wright State University. In 2006, she graduated from the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, completing the Experimental Flight Test Engineer Course, earning an additional Master of Science degree in Flight Test Engineering.
Fourteen years later, with her appointment in 2020, Colonel Pabon made history as the first female and
only the second non-pilot rated Commandant of TPS since the school began in 1944. Under her leadership, the Test Pilot School graduates approximately 48 students each year, running two classes of 24, with a new class beginning every six months. The first woman to be accepted into TPS was Captain Jane Holley, a flight test engineer, who began the program in 1974 as part of class 74B, graduating from TPS in 1975. Following Captain Holley is an ever-growing list of women, both military and civilian, who have achieved excellence and made many significant contributions to aviation and the space program. In 1988, Captain Jacquelyn Parker became the first female pilot selected to TPS, joining Class 88B and graduating in 1989. Shortly after, as part of Class 89B, Captain Eileen Collins graduated TPS and was selected to the space program where she became an astronaut and the first female to pilot the space shuttle and then the first woman to command a space shuttle mission.
The TPS Commandant’s desk has been occupied by a long list of aerospace legends including Col. Chuck Yaeger, Col. Buzz Aldrin, the grandson of the great Jimmy Doolittle - Col. James H. Doolittle III, and Col. George Ka’iliwai - the first flight test engineer and non-rated Commandant of TPS. Adding her name to that distinguished list, there is no doubt that Col. Pabon will continue the long legacy of leadership and mentorship in shaping the next generation of flight test professionals.
During our conversation, I asked Col. Pabon how she did it, how has she accomplished so much in her life, and how does she hold it all together? She answered, “Keep challenging yourself, do the best job you can in the moment and keep doing what you enjoy. Be confident and competent and your peers will respect you and the skills you bring to the team. And have fun!”
Recently, I found a video online and watched the change of command ceremony where Col. Pabon took command of TPS. One of the first things she did was give a heartfelt thanks to her mom and dad. I am sure they are very proud parents. They raised a wonderful, strong daughter and a fine Air Force officer who demonstrates daily that knowledge is power! TPS is in good hands!
Dr. Eileen Bjorkman didn’t really plan on a career with the Air Force. Although her father was an Air Force officer, growing up as a “military brat,” she never really considered joining. A child of the 1970’s, she found at that time, there were limited opportunities available to female service members.
Dr. Bjorkman was born in Victoria, Texas, but grew up all over, following her father around the country as his military assignments changed. For a while, she lived in Alexandria, Louisiana. Then they moved to Dayton Ohio, then to Phoenix, Arizona, from there down to Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida and then up to Illinois, settling near Scott AFB, where she finished her last year and graduated from high school. About this time, her father retired from the Air Force and moved to Seattle to work for Boeing. She went along with her mom and dad and decided on the University of Washington for college.
At the University of Washington, she began her studies with the intent of earning a degree in aeronautical engineering. After her second year, she decided to switch majors and pursued a degree in computer science. She then worked for a year and realized that she wasn’t really interested in spending the rest of her life programming computers. By chance, she noticed an advertisement that the U.S. Air Force was interviewing for officers on the University of Washington campus. She mulled it over and decided to stop in and talk with them to see what they had to say. She found that a lot had changed within the service and that there were now many more opportunities for women.
In my conversation with her she said, “I wouldn’t say that my decision to join the Air Force was very well thought out. It was more like, let’s give this a try and see what happens.” Well, it seems to have worked out pretty well! She received her commission in 1980 and served for nearly 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a colonel. During her military career, she served as a Flight Test Engineer Instructor, as well as a Test Squadron Commander. She was a Senior Non-Rated Aircrew member and flew more than 700 hours as a Flight Test Engineer in over 25 different aircraft including the F-4 Phantom II (her personal favorite!), the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the C-130 Hercules and the C-141 Starlifter. She also held multiple staff and director positions with ever increasing responsibilities. She retired from active duty as the Chief of the Modeling and Simulation Policy Division, Warfighter Systems Integration and Deployment.
After retiring, she continued her work as a civilian. She is member of the Senior Executive Service and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, California. Her responsibilities include overseeing a budget of nearly $3 billion, a workforce of over 18,000 people working at 34 different locations, with over 200 test facilities and a fleet of 75 aircraft.
Speaking with her and learning about her life’s journey, I quickly became aware that Dr. Bjorkman isn’t one to sit still very often or for very long! Hers is a continuous path of accomplishments, always moving forward, always moving up. Her educational accomplishments, along with her distinguished military and civilian careers, are simply awe inspiring, to say the least, and point to a person who is highly motivated, always curious, and not afraid of challenges!
In her spare time, she earned her FAA pilot certificates, holding an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, and is a Certified Flight Instructor with over 2000 hours of flying time. She owns a beautiful Super Decathlon aerobatic airplane that she enjoys flying. She’s also the author of two books. “The Propeller Under the Bed” is a tribute to her father, who, at the age of 82, flew a record setting flight in an airplane he designed and built. But it’s also a trip through aviation history with emphasis on the “homebuilt” experimental aircraft movement, which if you read between the lines, you’ll find that it’s actually a lifestyle!
Her other book, “Unforgotten in the Gulf of Tonkin,” is a story based on U.S. Navy pilot Willie Sharp. After his jet was hit over a target in North Vietnam, he was forced to eject. The book offers an insider’s look and details the efforts that go into protecting and saving our people by providing systems and equipment to increase the chances of survivability in the event of a mishap. Should some unfortunate event such as a pilot shootdown and ejection over enemy territory take place, it details the heroic efforts that go into search and rescue. It’s a must read and helps us remember that our country is protected by our nation’s finest, and to honor them. It’s also an important reminder that our nation’s protectors are protected by each other.
Dr. Bjorkman is an inspiration and example of what you can achieve by always leaning forward, making the best of your situation, and always striving to create the best version of yourself! TRY HAPPENS… Dr. Eileen Bjorkman
Jessica “Sting” Peterson
Growing up in the Antelope Valley located at the western tip of the Mojave Desert in Southern California, she helped out around her parent’s auto repair business. If not out of interest, but maybe also necessity, from her dad she learned about all things mechanical. From brake jobs to body work, oil changes to chasing electrical gremlins in cars, she maneuvered her way about the day-to-day activities of the shop. The time she spent working on cars gave her experience and confidence working with her mind and hands. In what is thought of as a traditionally male dominated work area, I’d guess that exposure to the inevitable auto shop antics and the sometimes less than savory language utilized in the banter between the tow truck drivers and mechanics, may have also helped her make her way through her chosen career path.
Speaking with her, I wonder if she chose her path or did her path choose her?
Jessica “Sting” Peterson is an Instructor Flight Test Engineer at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and the 412th Operations Group Technical Director at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California. She was born in Lancaster, California, about 20 miles west – southwest of Edwards. In school, she was interested in and did quite well in her math and science classes. That, coupled with the mechanical skills that she acquired working with her father, makes the career field went into seem like a natural fit.
Considering what to do after high school, Jess thought about different avenues to develop her interests. She decided to pursue studies in engineering. Her father, trained as a mechanical engineer, advocated for a degree in mechanical engineering. She, however, and quite possibly with a hint of youthful rebellion, decided on electrical engineering. After her first year of college, comparing her coursework to that of her peers on the mechanical engineering track, she decided to change her major to mechanical engineering. Maybe dad was right? Jess earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and went on to earn her Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. She earned an additional
Master’s degree in Flight Test Engineering from the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, where she graduated in 2018 with Class 17B as one of only two civilian engineers in her class.
Her first assignment in aviation testing came in the form of an internship that she had with the USAF. During the summer and fall between her junior and senior years of college, Jessica worked on an instrument engineering project with the US Air Force, the task was the design and manufacture of the systems used to measure data and collect video during a test. Her main project was designing a bracket to hold a small video camera for collecting video of a refueling boom on a tanker aircraft.
She has worked on many interesting projects while at Edwards conducting flight tests on fighters, bombers, and unmanned aircraft. When I asked for a “standout” project that she was a part of she quickly answered, “Auto GCAS!” The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (GCAS) prevents an aircraft from hitting the ground by taking control from the pilot, who may be disoriented or possibly unconscious due to experiencing excessive “G” forces. The system automatically executes a maneuver to avoid ground contact. She was able to meet an F-16 pilot who was saved by the system she helped develop. He lost consciousness while in an 8g turn losing control of his jet. The Auto GCAS recovered the aircraft while he was still unconscious, saving his life! The Auto GCAS is a subject that deserves a story itself and I encourage you to do some research on it. It is an amazing system! Later in our conversation after listening with great interest and learning about several other test projects she participated in, I asked what she’s most proud of in her work, she answered “The students I’ve instructed.” That says a lot about her character. WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED
How does someone so accomplished get to the position in life that Jessica “Sting” Peterson is in? She answered, “Grow where you are planted! Do the best you can exactly where you are in life, at that moment, do the best job you can on what you are working on, challenge yourself, and keep learning.”
When asked how she keeps it all together, physically, and mentally, she answered, “Run, bike, eat well. Be mentally fit so you can think clearly, make critical decisions in a timely manner, and focus.” When she says it, it seems so easy, such a natural thing to do.
After a pause for consideration, I asked, “How do you do that, what do you mean?” Again, an answer clear as crystal, “You get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
I asked for examples of things she does. “Mountain climbing, rock climbing, I put myself in uncomfortable situations.”
Questioning the riskiness, another equally intelligent answer, “Know the risk you’re taking. Identify the risk and manage the risk.”
Having to direct the conversation back toward my comfort zone, I went for some low hanging fruit. I asked her if she had a favorite airplane to fly in. Her answer, “The next one!”
FROM HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE TO FIRST OFFICER
Pilots come from many different backgrounds. Some dream of flying from childhood, while others know or look up to pilot friends and family. For Colton Tribby, even though his father was a Corporate Pilot Captain, he never saw himself flying as a career.
Colton decided to study physical therapy in college but didn’t feel passionate about the work. A semester into college, Colton’s dad suggested obtaining his Private Pilot’s License to see if he enjoyed aviation more than he thought. And he did. Colton decided to pursue a career in commercial aviation and enrolled at LIFT Academy.
AT THE SAME TIME, PROVIDE A SERVICE TO GET PEOPLE FROM POINT A TO POINT B SAFELY.”
AT THE SAME TIME, PROVIDE A SERVICE TO GET PEOPLE FROM POINT A TO POINT B SAFELY.”COLTON’S FLIGHT PATH FROM LIFT TO REPUBLIC
WHAT IS LIFT ACADEMY?
Located in Indianapolis, Leadership In Flight Training (LIFT) Academy seeks to create top-tier, airline ready pilots. With a defined pathway to Republic Airways, students learn from Certificated Flight Instructors (CFIs) in state-of-theart Diamond aircraft, utilize Diamond flight simulators and remain on track with their training with the help of their assigned Student Advisor.
When students graduate and finish building the FAArequired flight hours, they go on to become First Officers at Republic. Between graduating from LIFT and flying at Republic, students become a CFI at LIFT or fly for our partner, Cape Air.
HOW LIFT PREPARES STUDENTS
From day one at LIFT, Colton trained to become a pilot at Republic. “I had the opportunity tAued. “It gave me a step up because I knew what level of effort was required of me when I started training at Republic.”
Colton knows he made the right choice. LIFT helped him realize that aviation isn’t some far-off dream, but an attainable, affordable and extremely rewarding career. “At LIFT, I was able to progress through my training quickly,” Colton remembered. “I was scheduled multiple times a week to fly and do ground lessons and also offered the opportunity to pick up more flights with other instructors during open flying.”
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL PILOT?
When asked what he thought a LIFT student needs to do to succeed, Colton immediately thought of studying and dedication. “A lot of aviation requires studying outside the cockpit.” Both high school students thinking of aviation and career changers should be prepared for hard work in and out of the aircraft. Each student is assigned a Student Advisor who helps the student stay on track while managing their flight training schedule, study time and ground school.
Since LIFT is owned and operated by Republic and gives students a defined pathway to a career as a pilot there, the way LIFT CFIs assess each flight lesson is meant to reflect Republic’s. “The grading scale is similar,” Colton said, “so I always knew how well I performed a task because I was graded the same way as I was at LIFT.” LIFT’s program is built to help students succeed as a pilot at Republic.
WHAT’S LIFE LIKE AS A PILOT?
Colton found his dream career in aviation. “I think the thing I love most about flying is sort of simple,” he recalled. “I have the opportunity to pilot a jet-powered aircraft. Having passengers on board gives me a sense of purpose.” Colton’s sense of achievement as a pilot is obvious. “I get to do what I love, but at the same time, provide a service to get people from point A to point B safely.”
LIFT Academy recently announced a new campus in Myrtle Beach in addition to our existing campus at the Indianapolis International Airport. LIFT has rolling enrollment with classes starting each month. Does Colton’s aviation journey sound like something you could do? Learn more about LIFT Academy and what it takes to become a pilot at flywithlift.com.Colton Tribby, Republic First Officer
LAS COLINAS AVIATION CLUBBy Owen Cramer
Imagine looking out at the pitch-blackness ahead of you. Rain is falling, and a storm is raging all around. Lightning slices through the air, illuminating a dark horizon. There is no indication of where you’re facing. Trusting the instruments, you advance the throttle levers forward, feeling your aircraft lower as it gets ready to roll. Feeling confident, you release the parking brake.
At once, the aircraft lurches, picking up speed. It begins to lumber forward, rolling through the complete darkness into the unknown. You wait for the pace to accelerate, then check your airspeed. It’s high enough. You gently ease back the yoke, and lift off into the dramatic gale.
No, this isn’t another one of those thriller action movies, or high-jinx real-life dramas, it’s just another day at Aviation Club at Las Colinas Middle School in Camarillo, California. The aviation club was founded on the principles of letting students exercise their inner pilot skills after learning those skills in our school’s Aviation Elective, both headed by teacher and private pilot Thad Robbins. Mr. Robbins teaches the Aviation Elective at Las Colinas, a class in which students learn the basic forces of flight, and how to operate an aircraft. We learn about the science of flight, such as the Bernoulli effect, Newton’s laws of motion as they apply to flight, as well as how control surfaces are used to steer an aircraft through the three axis of rotation. We get to test our knowledge of controlled flight with a paper airplane flying contest… in the classroom! There aren’t many middle school classrooms where you are allowed to do that- at least without getting in trouble. Another aspect of the Aviation Elective is understanding the history of aviation as well as the future of flight. Whether it’s going back to da Vinci’s ornithopter or looking forward to modern stealth UAVs- we learn about it.
When I asked Mr. Robbins why he started the Aviation Club, he said, “I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to apply what they learned in the Aviation Elective class, and to inspire and encourage students to consider careers in Aviation. Of course, I also want students to have fun and to meet other students who also share an interest in Aviation.” In the after school Aviation Club, we have the chance to fly one of a small squadron of drones. These drones are used in controlled environments inside Mr. Robbins’ classroom or in the classroom next door, belonging to fellow teacher and aviator Eric Johnson. The drones can
from his start in the Navy to his position at United. He then gave the Club a special airliner throttle assembly, which can be used to fly the larger airliners in flight simulators. Other visitors include fellow Delta Airline pilot Kyle Beahan, as well as several C-130 and F/A-18 pilots from the Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station.
In the spirit of sharing our passion for aviation with the community, the Las Colinas Aviation Club participates in the annual Wings Over Camarillo airshow at the Camarillo Airport in late August. There, we set up flight simulators in the STEM Pavilion, and allow those curious in aviation to explore and soar in aircraft. Youngsters can pilot planes or helicopters into the air, fly around, and then try to land them. They can also pick what aircraft, time of day, weather conditions, and location they want to fly in.
The Aviation field is a vast expanse of limitless imagination, and Mr. Robbins is helping students to achieve that goal. We’re learning and having fun in his classes, Aviation Club, programs, and events.
The sky is not the limit in this school.
HAVE YOU EVER DREAMED OF FLYING?
the STEMPilot K12 curriculum and simulators. He taught himself how to write this code, amazing”, says LeBoff.
“I created these missions while I was still in high school,’’ says Josh Rivera. “My goal at the time was to create missions that were simple enough for the kids to learn and introduce them to flying. So they learned to take off, land and control the plane using instruments. That served as a great segway for students to start thinking about why an airplane is able to fly. That was the mindset I had when creating these missions.”
Thanks to his creative thinking, the missions he developed became a nationwide academic sensation in the STEM and Engineering Design education community.
Did you ever dream of flying your own plane? Ever have this desire to follow your passion? Well Josh Rivera did just that.
Along with creating flight missions, Josh also had the opportunity to teach a high school class, a summer program at The Cooper Union Engineering School and a class at Fordham University, all while in school. Josh explains, “In a way, I didn’t realize that I was going to teach a full class of students, but I eventually was able to plan lesson plans to conduct each class. Basically, how it worked was I would spend ¾ of an hour lecturing the aviation material and towards the end of the class put the students on the simulators using the missions I created.”
He is now a licensed Airline Transport Pilot with SkyWest Airlines, operating for Delta, American and United He just celebrated his 10-year anniversary of his first flight on April 7th, 2012. Way to go Josh!
If you are not familiar with the story of Josh Rivera, we are happy to share it now. Josh was born in New York City, where he became interested in the aeronautics class at the Frederick Douglass Academy, taught by Henry Rey, a certified flight instructor. STEMPilot supplied flight simulators for the classroom and Josh learned to fly on one of these. Henry Rey arranged flight lessons for Josh and he soloed in his senior year of high school.
Jay LeBoff, founder of STEMPilot, became interested in Josh’s aviation goals and STEMPilot has supported Josh through his journey. “We hired Josh to work on developing a tutored simulator learning mission for
Josh was an excellent high school student and earned a full scholarship to Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Queens, New York, and was able to commute from home. While completing his 4-year degree he also earned his Private Pilot License, Commercial, Instrument, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and Certified Flight Instrument Instructor (CFII)
“I have been interested in flying since I was nine years old.”
A NYC Student's StoryBy Jay Leboff
ratings, all while in college. Upon graduation Josh started teaching other student pilots until he accrued 1500 hours and his multi-engine rating, required for an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license. He was recruited by SkyWest Airlines and is now a First Officer flying a CRJ passenger airliner.
We are so proud of all the achievements Josh has accomplished over the years and can’t wait to see what else he will achieve in the years to come. Josh recollects, “I remember taking a flight to Beijing, China, for 14 hours for a high school trip and that sparked my interest in commercial aviation. I thought I could see myself following this career path in the future.” Josh states, “
Josh, now 26 years old, is an example of the possibilities for great careers for K12 STEM students learning “Why is an Airplane Able to Fly?”
If you are passionate about something and if this is something that you would really like to accomplish in life, then by all means do so.”
SOARING TO THE FUTUREBy Annie Loken
I grabbed hold of the stick in front of me, and checked that my spoilers were closed. I gave the line man the signal: one thumbs-up. I wiggled my rudder quickly to show I was ready for takeoff. The roar of the towplane increased as the rope became taught and pulled against the nose of the glider, and we began to move. I stabilized the ailerons in the air, and quickly checked the windsock. Thirty-degree crosswind, about 11 knots. Here we go. The wheel lifted from the asphalt as my airspeed increased. 15 mph, 25, 35, 60. Finally, the towplane lifted up, and thus began another electrifying day of soaring.
Soaring, or what is more commonly addressed as gliding, is an enriching sport for thrill-seekers and those who just want to try something exciting and new. You soar in an unpowered aircraft, known as a glider, which uses air currents and thermals to stay aloft for as long as possible. This method is similar to that of many large bird species such as vultures and eagles who soar through the air when they become fatigued.
Flying in a glider is an extremely smooth activity. As you gain elevation, you get a birds-eye view of the landscape that is staggering. Watching the tow plane pulling you up into the sky produces a feeling like no other. The most memorable part of the flight is the first few moments as your tires lift from the runway, because it feels as if you are floating in a plane-shaped bubble. That’s what I love most about gliding; it’s incomparable to anything on earth.
I first discovered gliding after a friend’s husband, who happened to be a tow pilot (and glider pilot) introduced my brother to the sport. At first, gliding did not seem interesting to me. A few years later on my fourteenth birthday, I received a gift card from my mother that would cover my first glider lesson. I was extremely nervous and apprehensive, but after just the first flight, I knew it was the sport for me.
After speaking with a number of my classmates in high school, I realized how little people actually understand about gliding and the benefits of getting into the sport. “It seems exhilarating and death-defying being up in the air with no motor like a bird,” says Marissa Grier, a freshman. “I would try it,” says Kayden Killingsworth,
also a freshman, “but it seems scary because with no power, what do you do if you’re too far away from the airport?” These conversations made me realize that many people who were interested felt just as I had in the beginning; too nervous to actually go and try gliding for themselves.
My first experience with gliding was a simple tow to 3000’ with an experienced pilot at the Tehachapi Mountain Valley Airport (L94). She took me up in a Grob glider (a large glider made from fiberglass). I got to test the controls and experience the aerotow, which wasn’t as frightening as it may seem. Getting to know the controls and aircraft was surprisingly smooth and easy!
Once my interest was peaked, I began weekly lessons. With an instructor to help you out, you never feel unsafe or frightened. “Getting young people interested in gliding is one of my main goals as an instructor,” says Mike Oldershaw, an instructor and glider pilot at the Tehachapi Mountain Airport (L94). “Not only is it a great activity to expand your horizons, but it’s also an exciting and beautiful experience you will remember for the rest of your life.”
The ground school portion of the learning experience isn’t excessively difficult, either. With patience and time, learning the basics of piloting is surprisingly elementary. To help with the learning process, I would recommend talking to any glider pilots you may meet. Learning about their mistakes and successes helped me determine how to approach learning the new material and the pace I should set.
“The best reason to talk to other pilots is to benefit from their experience. Most things in life, including aviation, we learn by having something happen that doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would. We analyze what went wrong and come up with a plan to make it work better next time. That applies to just about everything in life whether it is flying airplanes, sports, personal relationships, etc,” says John Gingras, also an instructor and pilot at L94.
As you can see, gliding is an amazing sport in need of many amazing people. Even if you think it may not be for you, go and try it out! You never know, it may be just what you’ve been looking for.
You’re invited to the AVIATION CAREER SUMMIT!
The Aviation Career Summit is an exciting introductory event, presented by Republic Airways, for middle/high school and college students as well as job seekers and career changers interested in the growing aviation industry. We believe that aviation offers incredible opportunities, and one of the goals of this event is to introduce the industry to people of all backgrounds and cultures.
At this incredible FREE three-day event taking place October 21-23, 2022 in Indianapolis, attendees will be presented with several amazing opportunities to work in aviation, attend aviation schools or participate in job ready programs. Attendees will be able to meet industry and community leaders, ask questions and begin to build relationships with participating universities, companies and industry organizations.
Groundbreaking in scope and mission, the Aviation Career Summit aims to introduce a diverse audience to all the possibilities that aviation offers for middle school, high school and college students as well as other individuals looking for a more meaningful and fulfilling career, inside and outside of the plane. Aviation is growing, and opportunities are readily
available in this rewarding, exciting industry. If you don’t live in Indiana, don’t worry, you can still attend the Aviation Career Summit!
Capt. Barrington Irving will be our Keynote Speaker
We are so excited to bring Capt. Barrington Irving to the Aviation Career Summit as our Keynote Speaker on October 22nd. Barrington was born in Jamaica but grew up in Miami when he was introduced to aviation by a customer at his family’s bookstore when he was 15. From the moment he sat in that customer’s plane the next day, he was hooked! To pay for his flight training, Barrington washed airplanes, but after conquering flight school he decided that wasn’t enough for him, he wanted to keep breaking barriers, keep exploring! He attended the historically black college - Florida Memorial University as well as Broward Community College.
Kick Off Meet ‘n Greet at Indianapolis International Airport. At this event for sponsors and leaders, you will have the opportunity to interact with aviation industry and community leaders.
OCTOBER 22 Symposium at Ivy Tech Community College with keynote speaker Barrington Irving, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) roundtable.
LIFT Academy Open Hangar Night and Reception. Spend the evening at LIFT Academy’s Indianapolis hangar to discover what LIFT is all about. Try out our flight simulation training devices, sit in one of our new Diamond aircraft and chat with current students and flight instructors!
Career Fair at the Republic Airways Indianapolis Hangar. This event, focused on middle and high school students, college students and career changers will meet all in one place to learn about available careers in the aviation ecosystem.
Join us October 21-23 as we inspire, connect and support future aviation professionals in Indianapolis, Indiana!
with Keynote Speaker Capt. Barrington Irving
SUMMIT!By Paige Bova
Barrington had another dream: flying solo around the world! At the age of 23, Barrington became the first and only African American to fly around the world solo – in just 97 days and 145 flight hours. For a time, he also held the record for the youngest person to fly around the world solo. The record was set at the age of 23 which previously was set at the age of 37. He did all of this in a plane he built himself, working with different airplane manufacturers for sponsorships and donations of airplane components.
Barrington, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, now runs Flying Classroom, a supplemental PreK-12 digital STEM+ curriculum based on his global expeditions.
Come learn more from Capt. Barrington Irving about his journey so far and where he’s going in the future on Saturday, October 22nd at the Aviation Career Summit in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Register for this free event at www.aviationcareersummit.com.
Thank you to our sponsors:
Republic Airways State of Indiana Chief Equity Inclusion and Opportunity Officer Delta Air Lines
Hawaiian Airlines Allegiant Air
A It was a random chance meeting with an airline pilot while I was looking out a store window. I saw a black man step out of a nice luxurious SUV with a uniform on. Although I did not know what the uniform represented, I could tell he was different and had monetary resources. Thankfully he never just passed me by. Instead, Capt. Gary Robinson, who flew a Boeing 777 for United Airlines, took the time to say, “Hey son, have you ever thought about becoming a pilot.” My initial response was I don’t think I’m smart enough to fly, but then I asked one pivotal question, “How much money do you make?” After he responded, the spark and interest in aviation began. As an inner city kid, I simply wanted to just make it out of poverty. Little did I know aviation would take me around the world and beyond my comprehension.
A I Highly doubt it. I needed a mentor to guide me because I had no exposure, even though I lived less than two miles from an airport where our company is headquartered. I did not have the confidence to explore. The aerospace and the automotive industries were always of interest to me as a child, but I never thought it would be for me.
Q How were you introduced to aviation? What is it that made you “catch the aviation bug”?
Q Do you think you would have found the aviation industry and become a pilot if you hadn’t been introduced at 15 years old?
FLYING TO SURF
Flying and surfing interested me at a young age. When I was young, we used to fly over to Hawaii to visit my mom’s family and my dad would always bring surfboards. At this time I was about four years old and I always had my assortment of mini commercial planes in my carry-on where I’d set them up on my tray table to practice landings. A few years later, I upgraded to traveling with surfboards. Surfing is a huge part of my family’s life. All I wanted to be was a professional surfer like my dad. I spent most of my childhood traveling up and down the California coast competing. I won my first surf contest when I was seven years old.
Traveling and surfing continued to make up my childhood. While I stopped traveling with my mini airplanes, my interest in flying remained. Finally when I was 12, I took my first flight in a Cessna 172. After that flight, I knew I wanted to make flying a career. I was finally able to begin my flight training when I was 16. I flew out of John Wayne, a very busy class Charlie airport, that gave me a lot of experience flying in busy airspace. It was challenging and daunting at first but ultimately it helped me become comfortable flying in busy airspace and around commercial airliners. A few months after I began training, I did my first solo flight. I still remember the day, my mom, dad, and sister parked on the side of the airport and watched me do my first three laps in the pattern solo!
During that time I was juggling high school as well as competing varsity on the surf and tennis teams. During the week, my focus was devoted to school, surfing and tennis. Weekends were spent flying, attending ground school and surfing. It was a busy schedule but one I loved! Flying continued to fascinate and capture me.
However, during this time there was one particular flight where I made a few mistakes and the instructor in the cockpit got really upset with me. Unfortunately, it caused me to lose confidence in myself. As I continued to fly I started to get nervous before flights and was doubting myself. That took the joy out of flying and ultimately caused me to take a break from flying for about three years. I still had a passion for aviation but at the time didn’t want to fly. I was struggling with what I wanted to do and if pursuing a flying career was still the path for me.
After I graduated high school, I took a gap year and moved to the Gold Coast of Australia with my sister. Surfing and the ocean has always been a space where I felt comfortable and I spent this time of my life doing the things I enjoyed: surfing and traveling. My sister is a professional surfer and won the WSL Longboard World Title back in 2015. During this time, I joined her on tour and I traveled around the world with her to all her surf competitions where I worked with her as her coach. I got to surf new places in Australia, Spain, Taiwan, and New York, which was an amazing experience.
After my one year visa was expiring, I moved back to Southern California and I felt it was time to try flying again. After a few flights back my confidence came back and I was excited to fly. I started flying and doing ground school everyday and excelled quickly. A few months later, I got my private pilot’s license flying out of Sunrise Aviation.
Fast forward two years and I earned my instrument rating, commercial single and multi engine rating, CFI and CFII at Sling Pilot Academy out of Torrance Airport. Eventually, I became an instructor there as well. I love teaching while I’m building up my hours; I feel it makes me a better pilot as I’m reaffirming the basics every time I go up with a student. More recently, I got my tailwheel endorsement and completed the primary aerobatics course flying a standard and super Decathlon through Sunrise Aviation.
I am now a CFI at Sunrise Aviation where it all began and I’m loving it. Right now I am transitioning to the back seat of the Decathlon learning how to teach aerobatics. I still find refuge in the ocean and I spend most mornings surfing before heading to the airport. Spending as much time in the water and the air are helping me to stay balanced and enjoy the moment I’m in. Looking ahead, my goal is to fly wide-bodies internationally, so I can continue enjoying my passions of traveling the world, flying, and surfing.
Piedmont Airlines is a great place to start your career in aviation. Not sure where to begin? Piedmont is committed to developing the next generation of aviation professionals and will assist you in pursuing your goals.
Interested in becoming a pilot? Discover your journey through Piedmont’s cadet program, the most flexible program in the industry. Build time where you want, when you want - no partner school required. Not to mention a flow program that guarantees you a job at American Airlines -no further interview required.
Are you a natural problem solver? Then, enroll in Piedmont’s Maintenance Tuition Program at one of our partner schools located across the East Coast. Students will receive full tuition coverage with additional Piedmont support throughout the program.
Piedmont has a career for everyone. Learn more and join our team today!
PATHWAY: Meg Cobb
I am Margaret (Meg) Cobb, from Cartersville, a small town north of Atlanta, GA. I am excited at this opportunity to tell my little, still developing story here, and possibly reach and inspire someone and infect them with the same enthusiasm I have for “things-rocket.”
Looking back, I see that my future was written in the stars at an early age. I didn’t realize it but the schools’ focus on STEM education in recent years was the fuse. The match was my home-life. I didn’t see the weirdness in the daily existence my parents created for me. They were… well, old – 42 when I was adopted from Las Vegas – and had already been married fifteen years. My first word was “wawn-mower.” I played with dolls, Beanie Babies, and cooked & pretended to be “Waitress Alise” in my kid kitchen. The weird part was, by the time I was five, I had tried my hand at MIG-Welding, learned how to navigate my way out of an unfamiliar forest by breaking twigs at eye-level on live trees, became a safe, aggressive rider on my Yamaha Raptor gasoline 4-wheeler, and had dressed as a pilot in a Nomex flight suit for Halloween. I even had my own David Clark headset and had helped Dad push the helicopter out of the carport and flown to the local McDonalds for Saturday morning pancakes. This was what my “normal” looked like.
Mom and Dad worked hard. Before I, their only child, came their way in 2004, Mom had already worked at THE phone company for 25 years, Dad had already served seven years in the Air Force and Army and had bounced around sampling several occupations such as sign painter, industrial steel designer, Army pilot, and State Trooper. I was by all-means, a middle-class country girl who enjoyed being female but also enjoyed the greasy hands stuff that are more common for males.
As I got into the later years of elementary school, I started to be intrigued by space, space travel, and NASA. I was asked if I’d like to go to SpaceCamp in Huntsville between fourth and fifth grade and that experience hooked me. I went again between seventh and eighth and my future began to come into focus. The “perfect storm” was when my hometown high school had just started their new, in-class, Embry-Riddle dual enrollment program for STEM/Aviation. My Dad got it arranged for me to test-fly the program one day while I was still in middle-school and the rest is history. My Embry-Riddle instructor, Mrs. Amy Archer, took a real interest in me and under her guidance I thrived.
Now, at 18 years old, I have graduated, taking the most rigorous mountain of classes any high schooler could attempt. I have almost two years of experience working at Kohl’s department store, and thanks to Embry-Riddle Daytona’s Financial Aid Office and the Veterans Administration, my next chapter of my life in rocket science will be a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from ERAU. I’m starting in Fall 2022 with plans of following the “aeronautics” option, which focuses on in the Earth’s atmosphere. With the addition of astronautics and propulsion options, who knows where I will wind up?
I have been contemplating the NASA Intern programs which recruit heavily at Embry-Riddle, Daytona, and seem to have already appeared as an active target on NASA’s radar. Looking at their list of numerous job vacancies is very, very encouraging. This has been so
fun and challenging so far! It’s almost like Nemo getting swept-up by the East Australian Current. The fact that I have been able, through hard work at school and a little bit of luck, to position myself so that I can do four years at ERAU with zero student debt gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It will no doubt, be both challenging and rewarding.
I am very excited to get my hands on CATIA design software during my first semester. I have very little time using CAD (Computer Aided Design) but I do have a natural ability to think in 3D. From what Dad has told me, CATIA is very powerful and fun with unlimited functionality, but the learning curve is steep because it is not at all intuitive to use and its CAD muscles make Aqua man look like a skinny jockey.
Another unbelievable benefit of Embry-Riddle, Daytona that has me excited is the ultra-rich labs that are part of the programs. Students participate in hands-on activities that would make easy work out of keeping Neil deGrasse Tyson engaged. It’s not uncommon to graduate with significant experience in things like the wind-tunnel, doing aerospace forensics investigations, and learning using virtual, augmented, and mixed reality in the Extended Reality (XR) Lab.
My belief is that all this will be FUN! Confucius has been quoted to have said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I think that’s precisely where I’m headed. Not only will a job as an engineer for the space program be fun and fulfilling, but it will also provide a solid source for a likely robustBy Meg Cobb
income and provide my family financial stability in the years to come.
The words of encouragement I feel led to pass on to others whose path to the future is yet to be determined, I’d like to say:
• Dream it! You can do it!
• Be a kid, yes! But be a good kid and make smart decisions.
• Work hard and identify your passion early!
• Don’t shy-away from the very challenging. Many people never even try.
• A strong effort in school will reward you with dollars for college.
In summary, life can be tough but you, and only you can make life a lot less tough by doing what you can do, to make your life enjoyable and meaningful. Your purpose when you get up each morning needs to be clear to you. If it’s not, do something different. Be humble and kind. Be the person that friends, family, and coworkers want to be around. If you are not, recognize that and do something different. I admit that I am not yet deep into this journey and I no doubt, will gain massive amounts of “life wisdom” in the years to come. But I can honestly say, my future seems to be bright, and I am thankful to everyone who helped make my pathway clear.
The Reno Air Racing Association is
The organization is making bold strides with its “Racing for the Future” campaign.
Most people in aviation are familiar with the Reno Air Races as “The World’s Fastest Motorsport”, with seven racing classes and blistering action happening each September in the Nevada desert since 1964. But recently, the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) is on an ambitious new track, blasting into the 58th National Championship Air Races in 2022 with their “Racing for the Future” campaign.
The slogan has meaning on many levels, according to RARA President and CEO Fred Telling. “The National Championship Air Races are alive and recovering
from the challenges we faced during COVID along with the rest of the world,” he said in a recent interview.
“Racing for the Future” embodies our intent to not only carry on our rich heritage of air racing at Reno, but to
FULL THROTTLE in 2022By Greg Gibson
expand our horizons by adding layers of engagement that will reach younger generations to instill them with the amazing and fulfilling passion for flight that we have promoted since 1964.” And expand they have, exemplifying the organizations emerging vision to Establish the National Championship Air Races as a pinnacle of inspiration, education, and exhilaration for people of all ages.
In 2015, RARA unveiled the STEM Education Discovery Zone in partnership with Global Robot and Drone Deployment (GRADD) and the Nevada Business Aviation Association (NVBAA). The group’s joint mission is to educate local youth through applications of the latest STEM technology and teach critical-thinking and problem-solving skills through collaborative hands-on projects. The Discovery Zone uses the Air Races as a focal point for these amazing programs and includes a drone flying zone, flight simulators, 3D printing zone, a hydraulic robotic arm, STEM Arcade and much more. Plus, kids who
participate in the STEM Discovery Zone are awarded free access to the National Championship Air Races for the remainder of the week. This amazing addition is extremely well attended, hosting more than 6000 students annually since 2018. Additionally, the program offers FREE UAV/UAS Certification for active military, veterans, first responders, high school students and educators during several nine-week sessions held throughout the year.
At the 2021 Air Races, Telling made two milestone announcements regarding the organization’s continued forward thinking and determined action. First, he revealed that the company has partnered with Microsoft to release The Reno Air Races: Expansion Pack and Reno Air Races: Full Collection as add-ons to one of its longest running games - the immensely popular Microsoft Flight Simulator. For more than a
The Reno Air Racing Association is FULL THROTTLE in
year and a half, Microsoft and RARA worked with dozens of race teams and aircraft owners who volunteered their time to help with the project.
“It is incredible how accurately Microsoft Flight Simulator depicts the excitement of the real-world Air Races, and we are excited to reach a completely new audience and inspire millions of young people to explore the field of aviation and maybe one day race here in Reno,” said Tony Logoteta, COO of RARA.
Hot-blooded virtual racers can purchase the Reno Air Races: Expansion Pack which includes the exhilarating, online multiplayer racing phenomenon along with four highly detailed starter aircraft. For the maximum experience, The Reno Air Races: Full Collection is available, which offers 40 unique, officially licensed and carefully modeled
planes – 10 North American P-51 Mustangs, 10 North American T-6 Texans, 10 Aero L-39 Albatros’, and 10 Aviat Pitts Special S1S. Among them are many famous “Gold” champions like Miss America, Strega, Voodoo, Baron’s Revenge, Radial Velocity, Six-Cat, American Spirit, and Pipsqueak, and many other top racers from RARA’s rich history.
After almost a year with game sales strong and developing a considerable following, RARA and Microsoft are in discussions to host a Virtual Air Race Championship to coincide with the real thing during the 59th National Championship Air Races in 2023. Logoteta is optimistic and said “We’d love to see how the real racers would fare against their virtual counterparts. I’m sure they would have their hands full and hearts racing!”
The second of Telling’s announcements revealed that RARA would be awarding and administrating up to 10 scholarships for local area students to earn their Private Pilot’s License (PPL). Supported by a fundraising campaign and matching grant from the Ray Foundation, the application window for the
scholarships opened to 16–22-year-olds in the Reno region on December 1st, 2021.
“With the success of our STEM education program, it made sense to expand the reach into financial assistance,” said Telling. “Flight training used to be something a summer job could pay for, but in today’s economy that really isn’t realistic. We are thrilled to be able to provide this path to deserving young people to help them realize their dreams of flight.”
This past April 2022, ten aspiring young pilots were awarded scholarships to help achieve their PPL. Modeled after successful programs at SUN ‘n FUN’s Aerospace Center for Excellence, AOPA, and EAA, the program borrows best practices and administrative policies to ensure the best chance of success for the young pilots in training. Mentors are available to help the students with specific challenges during their journey.
Greg Gibson, Scholarship Coordinator for RARA, said “Providing these scholarships not only gives these students an opportunity to learn to fly, but sends the message that the Reno Air Races are fully invested in contributing more to the future of flight than just inspiration on the track.”
Flight training began over the summer months, and several of the students have now completed their training with the rest not far behind. Gibson said the students’ experience wasn’t that limited to just their flight training, and that they acted as official ambassadors to this year’s National Championship Air Races, meeting the pilots and sharing their journey and accomplishments with race fans.
Racing for the Future is full throttle, and with these and other initiatives RARA has set the pace for both self-sustainment and expansion. Telling has been very active in researching additional locations to host Air Racing under the RARA flag, and while those plans are still in development, he hopes to announce new venues soon. “Air Racing has such a rich American narrative, and we’d like to see our Race Classes expand to other venues that could allow more pilots to participate and grow the sport,” he said.
For more information on the National Championship Air Races, scholarships, and other news, please visit airrace.org and follow Reno Air Racing Association on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Evektor Harmony LSA
Proven corrosion the Evektor Harmony LSA leader in schools in the has made the Evektor Harmony LSA a leading choice for training. OF IN AVIATION
Sunshine Dickson started her aviation career with a gamble on herself and what the military had to offer her. Being from a rural area (the township signs had a double-digit population - if any at all), she knew she wanted to travel the world and be something more than what was “expected” or be something unheard of for a girl from Northwest Arkansas. She had a love for airplanes and had her eye on the Air Force since middle school. No one had ever told her that this was something she could do and many tried to dissuade her. In the 9th grade, she took the military aptitude test and started receiving calls from all the military branches to join them. This solidified her resolve that she did have choices and now her problem wasn’t a limited number of careers to choose from, it was which one to choose. She told the recruiters she wanted to travel, go to college and work around aircraft. The Air Force seemed like the logical choice, she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps – but he did not agree – he felt it was not a place for his girl. Her best friends thought she was crazy for not going straight to college with them in Finance, Art, or Business. She was driven by a belief in herself and by gaining courage from her grandmother, a mentor and prior Army Nurse, she took a leap of faith and started her career in Aviation at 17 years old, in the Air Force active duty. She was stationed in California and her dream came true to work (not only around) but on aircraft – the Air Force had chosen the Galaxy (C-5A, B, & C) aircraft as her first assignment. As aBy Sunshine Dickson & Michelle Savoy
Communications, Navigation, Radar, and Doppler systems technician, she was anxious and excited as a whole new world had just opened up to her. The C-5 Galaxy tail stands five stories tall whereas she stood a little over five feet tall. The tires alone were almost as tall as her, this thing was giant and impressive. What had she gotten herself into, she thought. She was right, she could do this… and more.
Fast forward 29 years, Sunshine has traveled all over the world and worked on 12 different aircraft types within the Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, and Douglas manufacturers’ fleet. She has resided on both American coasts and many places in between and traveled to many countries. She became a civilian aircraft maintainer as an avionics technician, as a flight line mechanic to launch and recover aircraft, and as an engine-run specialist who was selected to train others in ground engine run tasks for the DC-10 & KC-10 aircraft. During that time Sunshine received her Federal Aviation Administration certification as an airframe certified mechanic. As an FAA-certified mechanic and college graduate, Sunshine found herself taking a different career path within her field, as a college instructor and supervisor of a collegiate program focused on aviation technology – teaching others to become what she has become. As an instructor in a program with low enrollment, she noticed that it was still a male-dominated field and that most youth (both genders) were not seeing this as a viable career. When asked about her experience in the academic setting (in 2018-2019) interacting with high schoolers, Sunshine said, “There were many career fairs, where the kids were incorrectly assuming that this (Aviation) is not something they could do and they did not even realize this kind of job skill and
training exists. They would look at me in disbelief when I explained it is a career I have held since I was 17. Which led me to know two things: first, kids are not being shown jobs like this as a good career move and second, the majority of girls are still not being encouraged to seek out ‘non-traditional’ careers.”
Today Sunshine is in Aviation Management and has an exciting career with Citadel Completions (www. citadelcompletions. com)– a VIP/VVIP Aircraft Completions Center. She gets the opportunities to meet head of state leaders, Presidents, and movie stars when these owners’ airliners are in Citadel’s facilities getting their interiors refurbished, or maintenance packages completed. With so many different avenues
you can take with an aviation career, this one has been the most fun, she says. As a testimony to aviation as a vocation, Sunshine stated, “I am blessed to be where I am and to have gone where I’ve been.
Life is amazing and I still love airplanes,
29 years later! That will never change.”
How to Become a CROP DUSTERBy Jon Slikker, Jr.
Crop Duster - today we love to be called a Crop Duster. When you go into town, you meet someone new, they ask what you do, and you say you’re a crop duster; 9 times out of 10 their faces light up and instantly start asking how crazy and dangerous and cool our job must be. We are more. We are aerial applicators. We are more like farmers and less like daredevils. We will come back to why I am opening with this. This article is about how to become an aerial applicator aka “Crop Duster.”
To receive the legal requirements of being able to work for hire and fly it’s very simple:
1. Obtain a Pilot’s license through the FAA. You must obtain a minimum of a Commercial pilot license to work for compensation
2. Acquire a license to dispense crop protection materials through your state’s department of agriculture or pesticide application regulation agency.
3. Spend a significant amount of time as an apprentice/inexperienced ag pilot learning the nuances of the trade and eventually become a journeyman/seasoned aerial applicator.
I will refrain from outlining the small details that will go along with these steps. I really feel that many aspiring aerial applicators can navigate these steps easily. Most operations who are hiring a pilot want to ensure you can
successfully apply the crop protection materials in a way that is effective in controlling the pest or problem. Probably the largest hurdle for new aspiring aerial applicators is proving this before they even get into an aircraft. Aerial Pest Control Operators/Business owners want you to spend time on the ground learning the basics; various types of chemicals and their unique mode of action, tank mix order and issues, farming cultural practices, crop identification and various aspects of daily operations. Owners want to see you have “skin in the game”.
What I see is the start of a relationship. I come from a background of sales. I have learned early on that it’s not entirely what you know, but who you know. YES! You do need to know a lot, but you also need to listen, be active, and do the work. When I expressed interest in becoming an aerial applicator my dad, Jon Slikker Sr., said that I had to want it. Meaning PASSION! I needed to prove that by learning the trade before I flew my first load. I started to develop a rapport with the local farmers and learned all about how they farm and why they made the decisions they made. Talk to the Pest Control Advisors about their expectations and learn why they recommended certain crop protection materials over others. Essentially, I was learning how to farm.
It’s hard to want to hire a pilot that is only about flying an airplane. It’s so much easier to hire a passionate pilot that cares about his/her role in farming and the protection of the food supply. Developing the relationship with the owner and them witnessing your growth will get your foot in the door.
CAYENNE GUTIERREZ PIETENPOLBy Cayenne Gutierrez
QWhat’s the latest Pietenpol news?
Well, there’s a 1930 Ford Model A engine in our dining room. That way it stares at us while we eat.
QWhere does one get a Ford Model A motor?
From classy folks. Ours came from Rick Davis, our Model A friend — the nicest people are Model A people. We found him at a Wings & Wheels festival, and he found a beautiful motor for us. Thank you, Rick!
Why would you use an engine that’s over 90 years old?
Well, old is gold, as they say. I guess we were trying to be traditional. A Model A motor is what Bernie Pietenpol used for the first Air Camper. Also, our understanding is that a person who rebuilds a Model A motor is by default a cool person.
What will you do after the motor is rebuilt?
No, I mean — what will you make next?
Maybe the fuselage — the body of the plane. But we don’t know what to expect, because we don’t know how much we’re going to hot rod this thing.
PROJECT - Q & A Update
Have you ever rebuilt an auto motor?
No. Fifteen is as good an age as any to start, don’t you think?
Hot rod? How do you hot rod an airplane? Especially such an old design?
You make it better. You talk to people who have made it better. Hot rodding is combining your artistic vision with your engineering vision. Seeing double, I guess.
Can you give me an example of what a hot rod modification for an airplane would be?
Anything you want. If you want an airplane that moseys along a bit faster, you can beef up the engine, shorten the wings. An airplane that lands in tougher spots might have fatter tires. Usually it’s a big cocktail of little modifications. Sometimes it’s a little cocktail of big ones.
QWhen do you think the plane will be finished?
Whenever the peer pressure gets strong enough.
What makes you think you can rebuild this motor?
Because it’s been done before.
QYou haven’t mentioned your sister, Lucie. What’s she doing? Is she still working on the Pietenpol?
No — she decided dancing ballet was more fun than building airplanes. It’s important to try things, to scrap what doesn’t make you happy, and to pursue what does.
Our thanks to the Barnes & Noble Café for the napkins, the pen, and the coffee that made this article possible.
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