Tag Archives: Important Aviation Personalities

Louis Zamperini: The Airman Who Could Not Be Broken

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, a World War II airman whose B-24 bomber was shot down in the Pacific Ocean. Laura Hillenbrand, who also authord Seabiscuit, goes to great lengths to paint an incredible portrait of this pilot’s courage and resilience.

Zamperini was an avid runner before joining the Air Force. In college he broke numerous collegiate records and qualified for the 1936 Games in Berlin. He carried his team to 8th place in the 5000 meters, finishing with an incredible 56-second final lap.

Zamperini was deployed to the Pacific Theatre where his B-24 was shot down and he and one other crew member survived by eating raw fish and birds for 47 days before drifting onto Japanese-occupied land. The two become prisoners of war and are subjected to a harrowing ordeal that at various times nearly costs them both their lives.

Unbroken is an inspiring tale of courage in the face of impossible odds and redemption. Hillenbrand takes great care in telling her subject’s story and, using interviews with family members along with tireless research of Zamperini’s fellow POWs, is able to piece together this tale.

Aside from Zamperini’s incredible story, the book provides a lot of gristle for aviation enthusiasts. The story begins with a young Zamperini who sits up in bed after hearing a loud “whooshing” sound outside his bedroom in the California night sky. He runs out onto the lawn and looks up, only to see the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin floating through the night sky. Hillenbrand also details many of the planes and bombers the U.S. and Japanese militaries employed. Especially interesting are the times when Hillenbrand delves into the rudimentary technology the early U.S. bombers used. Her description of the bomb sights those crafts utilized give a new appreciation for the skill and precision that went into operating them.

Whether you consider yourself an aviation fanatic or you can’t tell the difference between a B-24 and a B-52, Unbroken is a book worth picking up. It’s inspiring subject matter and super-fine detail can be appreciated by everyone.

Logan is a guest blogger who writes about the aviation industry and jet charter services. He takes off from Teterboro airport on a regular basis.

The Flight Instructor Who Gave Selflessly

Guest Post: By Stephen Hopson

Today I was going to write about the success of the “Flight to Hartford” project with my church (you can find it listed under my name) and tie it into the universal laws of attraction and giving. But something else came up, taking priority.

I just learned that a man who helped me make my dreams of becoming a pilot seven years ago recently passed away. While I understand most of you didn’t know him, I want to share the story of how we met and the incredible impact he had on my life. I believe and hope you’ll be touched even if you’re not a pilot yourself.

We could all learn how to give selflessly like he did. I don’t know whether or not he was aware of the universal laws of attraction and giving but he was sure a good model for someone who did.

Here’s the story.

Right around the turn of the 21st century, I was still in the process of building my speaking and writing career so I was looking for a part-time job to pay the bills in between professional speaking engagements.

It was also at this time when I was already a month or two into flight training but my original instructor was offered a new job in Colorado so I was forced to find a replacement elsewhere.

One day, I had an inspiration to visit other airports to see if I could get a job at a place where they taught people how to fly. I thought, “Why not? Might as well shoot two birds with one stone.”

After visiting one or two and being told nothing was available, I decided to venture a little further out and try Oakland Troy airport, a 30 minute drive from my home.

It was nestled among a fast growing metropolitan area (Troy, Michigan, USA) complete with a new strip mall, new apartments, a giant Wal-Mart and an assortment of other industrial buildings. The only area with open space was a small golf course nearby. The airport was big enough to accommodate corporate jets yet small enough not to require an air traffic control tower.

Pulling onto the newly repaved airport parking lot, I noticed a small circular white terminal building up ahead.

“That must be where I can find the personnel department,” I thought.

Upon setting foot inside, I was surprised to see only a couple of people milling about, drinking coffee and reading the paper. A jovial looking man with rosy cheeks was pouring himself a steaming hot cup of coffee.

Seeing that I was a new face in the place, he set his coffee down and came barreling toward me at 800 mph with an outstretched hand. It startled the heck out of me.

After regaining my composure, I made the mistake of accepting his bone-crushing handshake, causing me to wince in pain.

Trying to hide my pained expression, I said, “Hi, my name is Stephen Hopson and I’m looking for the personnel department.”

“And I’m Don Solms,” he boomed. He was still pumping my now lifeless hand.

Finally releasing his grip, he said, “Oh, you want a job here?” His face brightened even more, if that were possible.

“Yes, do you know of any openings?” I was massaging my fatally injured hand, opening and closing it repeatedly.

“I think they might be looking for someone. HEY, let me take you over to the other building to Susan’s office. She’s the personnel director. COME ON!”

Just before going in her office, Don thrust his business card in my hand and said cheerfully, “Good luck. Shoot me an email later. You’ll have to come over to my hangar where I keep my plane. Okay?”

Keeping both hands within the safety confines of my pockets, I said, “Thanks Don.” I could tell he wanted another hand shake. Fat chance buddy!

Susan then introduced me to two guys named Carl Barnes and Jason Zimmerman. They were both young men who were in charge running flight services. The interview went well and I ended up being hired. As a line service rep, I would be responsible for fueling and towing airplanes, among other things. It marked the beginning of an incredible 4 years at that airport.

One day, Don was hanging out at his hangar where he kept his prized Skylane. It was sunny and breezy. His hangar door was wide open, allowing cool air to swirl around inside. It was an open invitation to anyone who happened to come by. Spotting me in the fuel truck (I was motoring my way back to the terminal after fueling a customer’s plane), he waved me in and offered me a cold soda.

Ten minutes into the conversation, my dreams of becoming a pilot somehow surfaced. I told him that I was actually looking for a new instructor and was trying to save up some money to resume flight training.

Before he could respond, my vibrating pager distracted me with a new text message. There was another fuel order and I had to get going.

“Don, I’ve gotta go – they are telling me to fuel another airplane. See ya later!”

As I got up to leave, he grabbed my arm and gave it a powerful squeeze. My mind did a quick flashback to that day in the terminal. This time his eyes were sparkling like stars. And he was grinning stupidly.

I was in no way prepared for what he was about to say next.

“I would be honored to be your flight instructor and I won’t charge you for my time. All you’d be responsible for is the cost of renting an airplane.”

My God, an angel was in my midst and I knew it.

Absentmindedly rubbing my arms to stem the tide of goose bumps that was spreading like wildfire all over my body, I said, “Wow, really? Thanks man!”

Then he turned serious for a moment and said, “When are you free for your first lesson?”

Thrown off balance since I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, I said, “Well, how about tomorrow?”

“Okay, you got it! ” he thundered. Then he winked as if he were saying, “our secret.”

The rest was history. He was true to his word. Months of flight training with this man proved to be quite an adventure.

He was best known as a jokester, even in the cockpit. Now you have to picture this in your mind. There we were, me, a deaf student pilot and him, a 250 pound flight instructor with a large football frame who liked to poke his elbow at me every time he made a joke. And get this…he thought everything he said was funny!

Ouch!

Aside from his wry sense humor, he was one of the most patient flight instructors I would ever have. Every time we got ready for a lesson, he’d explain in the classroom what we were going to do and then we’d go up and fly.

If he wanted to explain something while we were flying, he’d take control of the airplane while I read his lips and then we’d resume the lesson. Don was one of those rare flight instructors who did not care about building flight time for a future career with the airlines. He was in it for the long haul. In fact, it wasn’t until after 50 plus years of flying and instructing that he finally hung up his wings last year.

He truly enjoyed the fine art of teaching and it showed. He never yelled at his students like some flight instructors who think they are drill sergeants with big egos. His students were his prized possessions and he treated all of them with the respect they deserved.

On December 3, 2000 Don had one big surprise up his sleeve. It was a calm, sunny day. We were scheduled to do some practice takeoffs and landings. After doing three of them, he instructed me to taxi over to the ramp by the white terminal building where I first met him months earlier.

Trying to hide his delight, he said, “Let me see your logbook for a sec.”

Arching my right arm as far back as I could behind the front seats, I snatched the logbook out of my bulging black flight bag and gave it to him.

Suddenly it dawned on me that today was “the day.” He was going to sign me off for my first solo flight!

I felt an involuntary shudder.

After scribbling his signature, he turned and looked at me. His brown eyes were sparkling again. The smile was even bigger than before. He was absolutely giddy, like a child on Christmas morning.

“So Mr. Hopson, are you ready?” he thundered.

“Yes, Don, get the hell out!” I thundered back, half joking.

Roaring like a lion, Don heaved his 250 pound football frame out of the airplane, closed and locked the door with a loud click. Then he did something that forever burned in my mind.

Like a five-star general sending his young fighter pilots off to war, he gave me a smart salute!

I almost burst to tears. It was deeply touching. No one ever did that to me before. Despite being more than ready to solo, I still felt a touch of trepidation so I returned the favor with a slightly shaky hand. Thank God he was too far away to see that.

Taxiing into position on the runway, I took a deep breath and firewalled the throttle causing the airplane to literally leap into the air. I remember thinking, “so this is what everyone means when they say the plane will bounce into the air without your instructor!”

Within seconds after takeoff, all the training kicked in and it was just another exercise around the airport pattern. The only difference was…well, I was alone.

After three takeoffs and landings, the venerable flight instructor waved me over and gave the signal to cut the engine. He stood there like a proud papa and motioned for me to go over to where he was standing. Instead of shaking my hand, he wrapped his huge arms around me and gave me a bone crushing hug. But, hey, I didn’t mind.

Five months later, one day short of my birthday, he finally signed me off to take my pilot certification flight test (i.e. “checkride”) with Mary Carpenter, one of the toughest but fairest FAA examiners from the area. He and Terry Ryan (his airplane co-owner at the time), both accompanied me on the flight to Pontiac airport, a mere 10 minutes away where the examiner’s office was located. He wanted to be there when Mrs. Carpenter and I were done with the checkride.

Two hours later, the examiner walked briskly into the waiting area, smiled and said, “Congratulations, Stephen passed with flying colors!”

Don roared his approval.

We all went out to have our pictures taken by the airplane and that’s when he said to me, “I’ll sit in the back seat on the return flight. Congratulations Mr. Pilot in Command!”

It was the greatest, grandest gesture another human being could ever have bestowed upon me. I’ll never forget it. He was that kind of man. Don believed in me so much that he was literally the only person at that airport who believed I would one day become the world’s first deaf instrument rated pilot.

Six years later, I did it, defying every naysayer in the aviation business. In February 06, I became the world’s first deaf instrument rated pilot. For that I salute Don Solms for believing in me.

Here’s to you Don!

Food for thought: Have you considered the power of the law of giving and helped make someone else’s dream come true this week?

Profoundly deaf since birth, Stephen Hopson is a former award-winning stockbroker turned motivational speaker, author and pilot. He works with organizations that are ready to explore and overcome adversity because no one is immune from it – adversity does not discriminate. His professional speaking services, Obstacle Illusions, include fun and passionate presentations, especially the story of how his fifth grade teacher forever changed his young life with THAT’S RIGHT STEPHEN!

You can view his newly re-designed website at http://www.sjhopson.com.

Stephen also maintains a blog called “Adversity University

First Black Woman Aviator in Aviation History

A role model in General Aviation Flight Training

The other day while browsing through African American Aviation History websites and blogs, I came across a name that I had heard many a times, but never got an opportunity (or simply being lazy maybe) to learn more about. So, I decided to spend some time, and read more about Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman (Jan 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926).

Bessie Coleman happens to be the first African American (Black) Woman pilot in the history of General Aviation. She also happens to be the first American (not the first African American, or Black female, but The First American of any race or gender) to hold an international pilot’s license. Now, who would have guessed that! Not me.

Early Life

Popularly known as “Queen Bess”, she was born in Atlanta, Texas and was the tenth of thirteen children to sharecropper parents, George and Susan Coleman.

Queen Bess began school at the age of six, used to walk 4 miles a day to an all-black, one-room school. Despite sometimes lacking even basic educational amenities, Bessie was an excellent student, especially at mathematics.

In 1901, Bessie Coleman’s life took a dramatic turn: George Coleman left his family. He had become tired with the racial discrimination that existed in Texas. He returned to Oklahoma (Indian Territory as it was then called), to find better opportunities.

When she turned eighteen, Bessie Coleman took all of her savings and enrolled in the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (now Langston University) in Langston, Oklahoma. She just finished one term and ran out of money and was forced to return home.

Career Moves

Manicurist job in Chicago

In 1915, at twenty-three, Bessie Coleman relocated to Chicago, Illinois, with her brothers, and worked at the White Sox Barber Shop as a manicurist. This is where she started hearing the tales of pilots or aviators from who were returning home from World War I. They told her stories about flying in the war, and Bessie Coleman started to fantasize about being an aviator herself. At the barbershop, Bessie Coleman met many influential Black men, like Robert S. Abbott, founder and publisher of the Chicago Defender, and Jesse Binga, a real estate promoter. Bessie Coleman managed to receive financial backing from Binga and the Defender, which capitalized on her flamboyant personality and her beauty to promote the newspaper, and of course to promote her cause. She could not gain admission to American flight training schools because she was Black and a Woman. Even other Black U.S. aviators would not train her. Robert Abbott encouraged her to go study abroad, to France. French women were already flying at this time in history.

Flight Training in France

Bessie Coleman learned French language at the Berlitz school in Chicago, and then sailed to Paris on November 20, 1920. She learned to fly in a Nieuport Type 82 biplane, and on June 15, 1921 Coleman became not only the first African American woman to earn an international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, but also the first African-American woman in the world to earn an aviation pilot’s license and the First American to earn an international pilot’s license. Determined to polish her skills, she spent the next two months taking lessons from a French ace pilot near Paris, and in September sailed back home for New York.

Airshow Performances

Bessie Coleman soon realized that in order to make a living as a civilian aviator—she would need to become a “barnstormer” stunt flier, and perform for paying audiences. But to succeed in this highly competitive arena, she would need advanced lessons and build a reputation. Returning to Chicago, she could not find anyone willing to teach her, so in February 1922, she sailed back for Europe again. This time she spent the next two months in France completing an advanced course in aviation, then left for the Netherlands to meet with Anthony Fokker, one of the world’s most distinguished aircraft designers. She also traveled to Germany, where she visited the Fokker Corporation and received additional training from one of the company’s chief pilots. She returned to the United States with the confidence and enthusiasm she needed to launch her career in exhibition airshow flying.

In September 1921, she became a media sensation when she returned to the United States. “Queen Bess,” as she was known, primarily flew Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” biplanes and other army surplus aircraft left over from the war. In Los Angeles, California, she broke a leg and three ribs when her plane crashed on February 22, 1922. She made her first appearance in an American airshow on September 3, 1922, at an event honoring veterans of the all-black 369th American Expeditionary Force of World War I. Held at Curtiss Field on Long Island near New York City and sponsored by her friend Abbott and the Chicago Defender newspaper, the show billed Bessie Coleman as “the world’s greatest woman flyer” and featured aerial displays by eight other American ace pilots. Six weeks later she returned to Chicago to deliver a stunning demonstration of daredevil maneuvers—including figure eights, loops, and near-ground dips to a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Checkerboard Airdrome (now Chicago Midway Airport).

Fatal Plane Crash

On April 30, 1926, Bessie Coleman, at thirty-four, was in Jacksonville, Florida. She had recently purchased a plane in Dallas, Texas and had it flown to Jacksonville in preparation for an airshow. Her mechanic and publicity agent, William Wills, was flying the plane with her in the co-pilot seat. About ten minutes into the flight, the plane did not pull out of a planned nosedive; instead it accelerated into a tailspin. Coleman was thrown from the plane at 500 feet and died instantly when she hit the ground (she was not wearing her seatbelt). William Wills was unable to gain control of the plane and it plummeted to the ground. Wills died upon impact and the plane burst into flames. Although the wreckage of the plane was badly burned, it was later discovered that a wrench used to service the engine had slid into the gearbox and jammed it, causing the plane to spin out of control.

Legacy and honors

Her funeral in Jacksonville, Florida on May 2, 1926 was attended by 5,000 mourners. Many of them, including Ida B. Wells, were prominent members of Black society. Three days later, her remains arrived in Orlando, Florida, where thousands more attended a funeral at the city’s Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Her last journey on May 5 was to Chicago’s Pilgrim Baptist Church. An estimated 10,000 people filed past the coffin all night and all day. After funeral services, she was buried in the Lincoln Cemetery.

Over the years, recognition of Bessie Coleman’s accomplishments has grown. Her impact on aviation history, and particularly African Americans in aviation, quickly became apparent following her death. In 1927, Bessie Coleman Aero Clubs sprang up throughout the country. On Labor Day, 1931, these clubs sponsored the first all-African American Air Show, which attracted approximately 15,000 spectators. That same year, a group of African American pilots established an annual flyover of Bessie Coleman’s grave in Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago.

In 1989, First Flight Society inducted Bessie Coleman into their shrine that honors those individuals and groups that have achieved significant “firsts” in aviation’s development.

A second-floor conference room at the Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC, is named after her. In 1990, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley renamed Old Mannheim Road at O’Hare International Airport “Bessie Coleman Drive.” In 1992, he proclaimed May 2 as “Bessie Coleman Day in Chicago.”

Mae Jemison, physician and former NASA astronaut, wrote in the book, Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator (1993): “I point to Bessie Coleman and say without hesitation that here is a woman, a being, who exemplifies and serves as a model to all humanity: the very definition of strength, dignity, courage, integrity, and beauty. It looks like a good day for flying.”

In 1995, she was honored with her image on a U.S. postage stamp, and was inducted into the Women in Aviation Hall of Fame.

In November 2000, Coleman was inducted in The Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.

She is the subject of Barnstormer, a musical that debuted 20 October 2008 at the National Alliance for Musical Theater Festival in New York; the book and lyrics are by Cheryl Davis and the music is by Douglas Cohen.

In 2004, a small park in the Southside Chicago Hyde Park neighborhood was named “Bessie Coleman Park.”

Additionally, the Bessie Coleman park council was formed in 2005 as one of many responses to a serious increase in crime, shootings, and disorderly loitering in and near the park, at 54th and Drexel.

Notes
^ “Some Notable Women In Aviation History”. Women in Aviation International.
http://www.wai. org/resources/ history.cfm. Retrieved on 2008-04-10.
^ a b “Pioneer Hall of Fame”. Women in Aviation International.
http://www.wai. org/resources/ pioneers. cfm#1995. Retrieved on 2008-04-10.
^ “Texas Roots”. BessieColeman. com. Atlanta Historical Museum. 2008.
http://www.bessieco leman.com/ Other%20Pages/ texas.html. Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
^ a b c d e f Rich, Doris (1993). Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 37, 47, 57, 109-111, 145. ISBN 1560982659.
^ Powell, William J. (1934). Black Wings. Los Angeles: Ivan Deach, Jr.. OCLC 3261929.
^ Broadnax, Samuel L. (2007). Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation. Westport, CT: Praeger. p. 17. ISBN 0275991954.
^ “First Flight Shrine: Bessie Coleman”. First Flight Society. 2009.
http://www.firstfli ght.org/shrine/ bessie_colman. cfm. Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
^ Texas Aviation Hall of Fame (14 July 2000). The Selection of Bessie Coleman for induction to the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame. Press release.
http://www.bessieco leman.com/ Other%20Pages/ release_1. html. Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
^ Adam Hetrick (17 July 2008). “New Music: NAMT Announces Selections for 2008 Festival of New Musicals”. Playbill.
http://www.playbill .com/news/ article/119576. html. Retrieved on 22 January 2008.
^ “Bessie Coleman Park and Council”. Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. 24 March 2007.
http://www.hydepark .org/parks/ BessieColemanPar k.htm. Retrieved on 2008-01-22.

Sean D. Tucker with Oprah Winfrey (video)

Ok guys. The other day I wrote about Sean D. Tucker, the world famous aerobatic pilot, who also is an honorary Thunderbird and Blue Angel, and performs for the the Team Oracle, and was supposed to be on Oprah’s TV show. If you did not get a chance to get the courage, or time, to sit and watch that show, here is a YouTube video recording of the show for you.

And if you do not know who Sean Tucker is, you can click here and read all about him in my previous post. The show was nice; with Sean in it, of course. His competition this time, for the time and attention on the Oprah was Oprah’s new favorite pair of jeans. Obviously, we don’t have the jeans part in this video. If you really want to watch that segment, the one with her jeans, you can always go to YouTube and search for it.

Sean is the only civilian pilot that I know of, who has flown in formation with the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds , and the Canadian Snowbirds. He has many other awards, recognitions, and things like that under his belt.

He trained with Amelia Reid; the first lady of aviation of California at Reid Hillview airport, San Jose, CA. And BTW, so did Rod Machado.

We’ll talk about Amelia Reid and Rod Machado some other time. Now go ahead and watch the Sean Tucker and Oprah video, and leave a comment here if you wish.

Sean D. Tucker with Oprah Winfrey this Thursday

Sean Tucker,

well known aerobatic pilot from the bay area California is scheduled to be on Oprah Winfrey Show tomorrow. So, those of you who do not watch this show regularly (I know I don’t), tune in tomorrow and see what’s up. Or use your TIVO or something. Sean performs for Team Oracle, and is the only civilian pilot who has ever been authorized to and fly in close formation with the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels. He has received various awards in his amazing career, and honorary Blue Angel and Thunderbird are just the two examples.

Sean has trained with the legendary Amelia Reid. Here watch this video of Sean Tucker’s amazing performance. If you click on the links above for Thunderbird and Blue Angels, your can see videos of their performance as well.

UPDATE: If you missed the show, you can watch a video by clicking here. It was pretty cool to watch him with Oprah, and how he says that you become one with the airplane.

An Aircraft in each household – a dream or reality?

Aviation has completed over a century of dynamic growth and advancement, resulting in the present air transportation system dominated by the commercial airline industry’s hub and spoke system. The initial 50 years of aviation were a chaotic, rapid evolutionary process involving disruptive technologies that required frequent modifications. The second half century produced a stable evolutionary optimization of services based on achieving an objective function  of economical operations. In the ongoing 50 years of what I call Aviation 3.0, there is a potential for aviation to transform itself into a more robust, scalable, adaptive, secure, safe, affordable, convenient, efficient, and environment friendly system. Read more about environment friendly aviation initiative in my “Green is the future of Aviation as Well” article.

However, such a global optimization requires not only the ability to perform analysis of larger system of system impacts, but also the ability to consider new value propositions that involve different infrastructures and business models that those which are currently the norm of the present aviation industry. While many obstacles exist, including technology, regulations, and perception; the Aviation 3.0 has the potential to mirror other on-demand market revolutions that have taken place over the past half century.

Highly successful innovators like Henry Ford and even Wright brothers believed that aviation would one day be capable of reaching an everyday impact in our daily lives. Yet after many years of rather empty promises, ranging from road-able aircraft to a a helicopter in every garage, the aviation community remains transfixed in a highly centralized world of very expensive, and not cost efficient aircraft.

Pessimists of the personal aircraft vision say that the aviation market evolution has brought us to the logical solution. Optimists of the vision respond that government regulations and the conservatism of the aerospace community have inhibited the industry. Both are correct, and as is typically the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. However, with a long-term viewpoint of demand and utility, it seems inevitable that in the very near future small aircraft will have a far more significant daily impact in many of our daily activities.

Sport pilot regulations, training and certification of the pilots, and the sport aircraft are a result of such an initiative from the government and the industry. If you desire to experience the spirit of what I am trying to express here in this article, find some time during your busy lives, visit your local GA airport, and ask someone in one of those FBOs to arrange for a demo flight for you in one of their Sport Aircraft. And then come back here and give this article and second read. And leave me a comment here underneath.

I am just a 6-seater Pilot

I logged into my facebook account today and an instant message popped up. It was Rohan. A former student at a former flight school American School of Aviation, where I held the position of a Chief Flight Instructor for over 6 years. I had not talked to him in a while, and had completely lost track of his whereabouts. First thing first, I added him as a friend so we can stay in touch from now on. What a great thing this facebook is!

Then I just followed the norm, and asked him what he was up to nowadays. To my shocking surprise, he broke a long chain of “looking for an airline job” rhetoric. He told me, “I have started working (since) about 8 months ago, sir”. “Really”, I said. “Congratulations Rohan! What kind of job? A pilot job”? And he replies back with an affirmative. I was very happy for him.

With the industry situation today, I have not heard of many fresh commercial pilot certificate holders getting a pilot job anywhere. And he tells me he has been working since about 8 months now. So, my next thing was, “Le’me see some pics man!”. I asked him how come there are no job pictures on his profile, and just some old birthday party pictures. To this he replies, “I am just a 6-seater pilot, sir”.

Huh!! What is wrong with this? Just a few hours ago I was talking to another former student, Santhosh, and he was telling me that he has a job, working as a software engineer, but how desperate he is to get a pilot job. And here is this one, he has a job, and here he is telling me that he did not post any pictures of him in the cockpit while at job, because he is just a 6-seater pilot!

My dear pilots, the fun of flying is not necessarily proportional to the number of seats behind you. It is not. And no, don’t tell me higher the number of seats, higher the responsibility. This is not true either. Would you be lesser responsible or fly with lesser amount of precision if there was only One passenger in the airplane? Being a pilot, at least for me, means, me, my machine, and the wild blue yonder. Heck, he is saying it’s just a 6-seater, and I would give up a nights sleep for a single seater anytime!!

Anyways, he did upload some pictures, and I am attaching a couple of them here in this post. And the aircraft that he flies is a Piper Aztec. And he gets paid to do so!

Congratulations again Rohan. I am very proud of you and happy for you. All the best.