Since I started my aviation career, there has never been, in my mind, the goal of going to work for the airlines or fly for an air carrier. If an unbeatable corporate offer comes along I might give it some consideration but my heart is in creating for my YouTube channel and flying with friends and loved ones while sharing my stories with my audience. Ultimately, my aviation goal is to bring new pilots into the industry and share my love of flying through my YouTube channel, website and social media.
Being a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) seemed like the necessary step in order to accomplish that goal and purpose. I always thought it would be very rewarding and now that I have also earned my Certified Flight Instructor - Instrument (CFII) I am well on the way to sharing my passion. Without CFIs, there are no new pilots so earning these certificates is one of my greatest accomplishments. I can also give back to the industry that has given so much to me.
Below is a quick timeline of my training and certifications.
PRIVATE PILOT TRAINING
The flight school I had taken my original discovery flight at had closed down. In the Spring of 2010, we found “Above and Beyond Aviation, LLC” based at Austin Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS). I scheduled a second discovery flight with the owner, George Farris. George and I got along very well and connected as aviators. I opted to continue my Private Pilot training with him. My first official lesson was set for March 30, 2010 at the age of 14.
George and I trained and perfected maneuvers, procedures and good habits until I turned 16. On February 12, 2012 after years of waiting to be of legal age, I soloed. That first solo flight out of KAUS from runway 17L was to be the beginning of my journey. After the solo, we had some more waiting to do. There were many more solo flights with occasional dual instruction and good fun flying thrown in as well. When my 17th birthday finally rolled around I was legal to take my checkride and preparation for that epic moment commenced.
Checkride morning was nerve-racking. My hopes, dreams and what I knew would be my career rested on how well I would do in the next few hours. My training was there, I just had to prove that it was. When it was all done and the plane was parked and tied down, the Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) said, “Alright, I’ll head inside and get going on your paperwork so I can get you your Certificate”. Indescribable joy followed but not anywhere near the joy that my Dad experienced that morning. The first words he said to me were, “Well…..is my son a pilot?” I promptly replied, “He sure is!”. His eyes turned glassy with tears and we hugged.
Once I had my Private Pilot Certificate the next sequential step was to begin instrument training. In July of 2014, I met Brandon Maso, a CFII out of the Dallas area. I was flying in formation with some friends to Osh Kosh that Summer and Brandon had been invited to join our group. Our friendship also turned into an instructor/student relationship and thus began my instrument lessons.
Our airplane, N80991, a1976 Cessna 172M has just had a Garmin 430 WAAS GPS installed and she was ready to fly IFR.
Brandon (CFII) and I became close friends quickly and the instrument training he provided was unique. Instead of mundane and grueling instrument only flights with foggles, we went on many adventures including flying across the country where I received practical, real-world experience. I was thrown into IMC conditions and had to make real decisions and utilize my skills and training to their fullest potential.
My first IFR lesson was a rainy night cross country in IMC. I had many hands-on lessons such as an aborted takeoff in the mountains when weather changed very quickly My decision making skills were getting sharper with Brandon’s training. I respect IFR flying tremendously and the more ILS approaches that I did down to minimums, the more I realized I had to be at the top of my game and improve my instrument flying on a daily basis. During the training days, Brandon and I took the Skyhawk from Texas to Georgia, Osh Kosh and even California. A few last items were polished from the PTS and I took my instrument checkride which was another success.
Six months after passing my instrument checkride the first time around, and while in the process of finishing up another semester at College, I began to train to become a Commercial Pilot. That Christmas break served as a time for Brandon and I to get ahead on that next endeavor.
A commercial checkride requires a pilot to demonstrate their mastery of the aircraft, decision making, effective knowledge of aerodynamics, energy management as well as safety skills and practices. It involves very difficult maneuvers and precision flying.
After going through the standards and expectations for the Commercial checkride, Brandon and I scheduled a time with the examiner. On December 30, 2015, I passed the Commercial checkride flying a 1983 Mooney M20J.
CERTIFIED FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR - CFI
Earning a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate is said to be the most grueling checkride of all. Flight Instructors talk about the difficulty in both the oral and practical flying portion of this exam. I realized, all that I had heard was spot on. It was the most grueling checkride I had ever taken.
After finishing my second year at Texas State University, I began the long and drawn out preparations and training that would be required of me on this day-long checkride. The CFI checkride itself is divided into an “oral” portion and a “flight” portion much like other checkrides. The difference was in the arduous length of time of each. A CFI oral can last anywhere from 4-8 hours and the flying portion can be about 2 hours long. The pressure was on and I was determined to accept the challenge and persevere.
I took and passed my CFI checkride on July 19, 2016. Immediately following, I was rewarded with the opportunity to log my first instruction to none other than my Dad, the very person who had introduced me to the world of aviation. We flew to AirVenture which takes place at OshKosh, Wisconsin. I provided him with dual instruction time during that trip which was a huge accomplishment for both of us.
CERTIFIED FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR - INSTRUMENT - CFII
My ambitions did not stop with a CFI certification, I wanted to teach my Dad how to fly by instruments and work toward his checkride. On July 19, 2017, I passed my CFII checkride and am now equipped to help him get to the next step.