It’s not a bird, but it is a plane! Georgetown sophomore Amanda Kelsey (SFS ’10) has taken her education to new heights by learning to fly four-passenger airplanes near her home in Los Angeles. This summer, she plans to attain her pilot’s license by taking lessons and logging flight hours at the University of Maryland at College Park, the nearest private airport that provides a program of this type. This week, Kelsey took time from studying, working and giving campus tours to talk to THE HOYA about her past and future flight path.

Where are you from?

I’m from Los Angeles, California. [Los Angeles International Airport] is my backyard, so I’ve literally dealt with planes since birth.

How did you become interested in flying?

[My father] grew up in a really bad neighborhood when he was young, and he didn’t graduate from high school, so he literally had nothing. So he decided that he was going to join the Air Force. He started working on planes in the Air Force. He flew them and really got into them and liked them. So, I became interested in them because of him. After returning from the Vietnam War, he eventually ended up buying a Cherokee 6, a six-seat private plane, with two other people he worked with. So, ever since I was born, he would take me to the hangar.I would pretend to fly the plane, you know, put on the headset and stuff like that.

What kind of planes do you fly?

The planes that I took lessons in [are] called Cessna 172, which are smaller planes than the one my dad flies, the Cherokee 6. Cessna 172’s have four seats.

What does it feel like to be the pilot?

I hated it at first. It’s so terrifying. At first, it was something that [my dad] wanted me to do. But I really got into it eventually. My dad told me that I couldn’t get my driver’s license until I soloed a plane. The youngest you can do this is at 16. So on my 16th birthday, I went to Rolling Hills Aviation, which is where I take my lessons.

So do you still take lessons when you go back to Los Angeles?

Yes, I do, but it is hard to take lessons here because obviously there is no airport [close to campus] or anything like that. So, I do ground school instead. Ground school is basically learning the rules and regulations and the meanings of different words and controls. It’s like passing a written exam. I bought a booklet and DVD set from an accredited flying instruction organization so that I can take it with me wherever I go, or else I’d have to go to classes at an actual building. So it’s hard to do it here because of schoolwork and I have a job [at the library].

After college, do you plan to do anything with aviation?

[A year ago] my dad actually bought a little aerobatic plane. He said that he bought it for me.

Have you met any one at Georgetown that is as interested in aviation as you are?

I haven’t at all. Actually, I think I met someone once that said he was interested in it but he had never taken lessons. It’s really interesting, there’s nothing like flying that I’ve ever experienced.

Is there ever a time that you thought you were going to crash?

When I soloed, my first landing was horrible, because it was just me in the plane. My instructor got out of the plane, so it was just me in the plane by myself talking to the tower. Giving them all the information . flying around the area . before coming in for landing. Because there wasn’t the extra weight there that I was used to with my instructor, I miscalculated a little bit and ended up ballooning. I flew around the area by myself before landing. I miscalculated my landing, so I ended up ballooning.

So you didn’t get hurt?

No, but my dad always reminds me of this time and teases me that this could have been “it” for me.

Do you think you are going to pursue flying after graduating?

I’ve actually thought about that, but it’s very different from the kind of flying that I do. There are other controls. But I mean, that’s definitely a possibility. I would love to continue flying.

Are your siblings as interested in aviation as well?

I have two younger brothers. They are 15; they are twins. But no, they aren’t.

What’s one word that can describe what flying a plane is like?

Exhilarating! It’s the closet thing that you can come to flying.

What’s the farthest that you’ve ever flown before?

I’ve flown from certain areas in southern California to other ones. It’s definitely not an easy thing at all. There are a lot of things to remember and there’s a huge risk involved in it.

How long did it take you to memorize all the controls?

Not that long; I have a really good memory. My instructor told my dad that I have a knack for this and that I should really continue this.

What else can you tell us about flying a plane?

It’s expensive. So my parents have done a lot to make sure that they can provide money for lessons. But I would really recommend it. You know anyone can walk into a private, small airport and learn how to fly. You can go ahead and take one lesson.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.