Courtney Robson, senior, has done what most teenagers never think of doing: she is in training to receive her private pilot license.
Training for a private pilot’s license is similar to learning how to drive.
Both her parents have their flying licences; they are the ones who encouraged and influenced her to begin training in the first place. Her dad, who is a previous flight instructor, interested her in learning how to fly. She began her training with the trainers and fleet of planes available at Wings of Carolina.
Training for a private pilot’s license is similar to learning how to drive. In order to get a driver’s license, you must complete a certain number of hours in a driver’s education course and then spend a certain amount of time driving on the road. After completing this, you take the driving test with an examiner who will pass or fail you. Obtaining a private pilot license is conducted in a similar manner. Along with a written and flying test, each student is required to obtain a specific number of hours doing certain tasks which are logged in a personal log book.
When Robson finishes training and receives her license, she will be allowed to fly alone and take passengers with her without having her trainer next to her, much like a driver’s license.
Gaining solo hours is one of the key parts of obtaining a private pilot license. Robson, so far, has flown solo seven times, each flight lasting about two hours.
“The first time I did a solo was very nerve-wracking. My instructor told me to stop the plane and then he just got out. He told me to do three takeoffs and landings and I just had to go do it. Before my first takeoff I did everything as if my instructor was beside me except I felt jittery. I hoped everything would go well. On my last landing I was just thinking how I had to put the plane on the ground and be done. Looking back ,I realized how much fun it was, but during it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done,” said Robson. “My proudest achievement is when I soloed because I flew a plane by myself and they cut off the back of your shirt and hang it up on the wall.”
To prepare for a flight, you must check to make sure you are okay to fly. Flying when sick or tired is dangerous. After starting the engine, each pilot must make sure the instruments are working properly. Pilots are responsible not only for themselves, but also for the passengers and the plane. Following the checklist and proper procedures, although simple and seemingly silly, are a huge part of flying safely.
“My favorite part about flying is when you’re about to takeoff and all of a sudden you just come off the ground and go into the air. My least favorite part is landing with a strong crosswind because even though I correct for it with the ailerons and rudder, I’m scared a gust of wind will throw me off right before landing,” said Robson. “My thoughts while flying [are] how much fun it is and how high up I am. Its kind of scary when you know you could get in trouble if you’re not constantly paying attention. It’s overwhelming at first, but now everything seems like second nature and I can focus on different things.”Training for a private pilot’s license is far from easy. It requires an enormous amount of time, focus and dedication.
“I usually spend at least 3 hours a week [training with a plane].The hardest thing has been learning how to land. You need to flare at the right moment or you will continue to climb or slam onto the runway,” said Robson. “Right now I fly the Cessna 152, but I could also fly the other airplanes at the club such as the 172, Warrior or Mooney. The 152 is the smallest and easiest to learn in.”
Robson has completed 53 hours of training so far and is hoping to take the final test to receive her private pilot license soon.