Summer Flying for EAA-ForeFlight Scholarship Winners

School is out for summer and our scholarship recipients, Jacob Rasmussen and Megan Kerstein, are already back in the air. If you missed our first follow up with these two, read part one here. Although this Spring brought some challenging weather, Jacob and Megan remained focused on their pursuit of flight.

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Megan Kerstein

No pool parties and sleeping in for Megan this summer break as she switched hats from full time student to flying humanitarian. Megan is spending her summer on an environmental science/justice internship in Alaska. The organization she is interning with helps indigenous Alaskans and other community members to prevent environmental destruction on their lands. Megan explained that it’s not all work and no play; she’s expanding her flight experience by taking some lessons with Artic’s Air Academy in Palmer, Alaska. Megan reports that “the scenery is absolutely incredible!”

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Where are you in your training now?

I’m prepping for my solo currently.

Has there been a flight that sticks out in your mind so far?

My most recent flight in Alaska sticks out in my mind. I’ve never been at the flight controls through mountain terrain, so that was pretty exciting! We flew through mountain passes and then ended up over the Prince William Sound, a gorgeous body of water. We flew over several glaciers on the way to the Sound. The whole experience was unreal!

What’s your favorite part of flying?

That’s a tough one. I love the exhilaration of taking off, but I also love getting up to cruise altitude and taking in the scenery around me while interacting with the flight controls and navigating the plane. For me, cruise flight is when all my skills come together, which is really energizing.

What’s next? Do you have new goals for what you would like to do with your pilots license?

I’m going to fly a couple times a week in Alaska, which should bring me very close to finishing up. From there, I’d love to take some of my friends up and hope that the aviation bug bites them. I just really want to inspire others to get involved in aviation to some degree. I would love to be a mentor for the Women Soar You Soar Program held at Oshkosh AirVenture every year, as that program was very meaningful to me as a participant.

Blog-JacobRasmussen-1Jacob Rasmussen

Congratulations are in order for Jacob—when we caught up with him, we found out that he has been accepted into EAA’s Advanced Air Academy SportAir Camp to take place following this year’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. At this camp Jacob will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with composite construction, fabric covering techniques and ground flight training.

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Where are you in your training?

Due to scheduling, weather and other obstacles the last couple of months have been especially difficult getting in hours, however I am working hard on bookwork and ground instruction. I have a total of 18 hours as pilot in command, 1.5 hours of solo time and I am about to embark on my second cross-country flight with my instructor.

Has there been a flight that sticks out in your mind so far?

As empowering and memorable as one’s first solo must be and is, the one flight that has stuck in my mind the most would have to be the first with my instructor. From being pilot in command, radioing the tower, taking off, all the way to wrestling the airplane back to earth, with a death grip on the yoke and my eyes fixated on the runway. I imagine the experience to be like what a rookie naval pilot would have when landing his first F-16 on an aircraft carrier in the middle of a typhoon…it was exhilarating. It was my first glimpse into what many believe to be an impossibility or a mere dream that only the most well off and elite can aspire to fulfill. When in actuality it is more easily obtainable and by no means impossible as one might think. With just a little dedication of one’s time and resources, as well as a true desire to follow through, anything is possible within aviation.

What’s your favorite part of flying?

My absolute favorite part of flying is the feeling of accomplishment and knowledge I get when completing each step to the goal of becoming a private pilot.

What’s next? Do you have new goals for what you would like to do with your pilots license?

My plans as of now, are to continue pursuing aviation as a hobby and potential carrier for the future to help serve my community. I would love to (hopefully in the near future)  learn to fly helicopters while continuing along my training of fixed wing aircraft. My only warning to those who may be interested in flying is that when you start you will never want to quit and if you do quit you will wish every clear day of your life that you hadn’t given it up.

We’ll be checking back in with Jacob and Megan once they’ve officially received their licenses. Until then, we wish them the best of luck with their summer activities that will help take their aviation skills and knowledge to new heights.

ForeFlight is Onboard Historic Air Race Classic

As a veteran of this and other cross-country air races, I was thrilled to participate in the Air Race Classic starting events in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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Visiting with Pilots Jessie Davidson, Topaz Grabman, and Emma Sullivan from Above All Aviation. These ladies are strategizing for a win!

The Air Race Classic has its roots in the first Women’s National Air Derby, held in 1929, when twenty female pilots set out to prove to the world that air racing was not just a sport for men. Beginning in Santa Monica, California they flew over 2,800 miles to the finish line—the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio. From that event, the Ninety-Nines were formed, as ninety-nine of the then 117 licensed female pilots organized to promote flying, friendship, and freedom around the world. Air Race Classic, Inc. continues the tradition of this historic race.

With airplanes and logbooks impounded for meticulous inspection by members of AWAM (Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance), anticipation and excitement built over the weekend as the 51 race teams gathered for three days of pre-race briefings. During the briefings I shared with racers how to get the most out of ForeFlight features such as our new weather imagery for better forecast planning, user waypoints, and annotating taxi diagrams with race time lines. It was fun to share my experience in what goes into creating a strategy for this race.

Each airplane is ‘handicapped’ to provide the best way possible to make all airplanes equally competitive. During the handicap flight the plane is flown full throttle on a rectangular course at a specific altitude. Vents are closed and engines are leaned for best performance. This levels the playing field and so the race becomes one of pilot skill and strategy rather than the raw speed of the fastest airplane, as it was in 1929.

As an Air Race Classic racer myself, I can tell you that the best strategy is to scrutinize the weather each day of the race and capture the best possible winds on the best possible days. Sometimes that means not flying on a day of headwinds if more favorable weather is forecast. As long as the course is completed in the four days allowed, how many of the legs are flown each day is up to each race team. There are some other fine-tuned race strategies I have used, but you’ll have to be my race partner to find out what those are! My ultimate advice: fly straight, fly fast.

2015 Air Race Classic star route

This year’s 2400 mile race forms a star pattern.

On Monday, the clock started against the 111 racers. The day VFR race legs total more than 2,400 miles. The race route is different each year; this year’s path draws a sort of star pattern, with the required timed legs going first to Hickory, NC, then Connellsville, PA, Jeffersonville, IN, Kalamazoo, MI, Lawrenceville, IL, Kirksville, MO, Union City, TN, and Gadsden, AL, and crossing the finish line at Fairhope, AL. Those who crossed the starting timeline have until 5:00 pm EDT Thursday to finish the course.

Engineers and rocket scientists who work for companies like Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, airline pilots, and airport managers, artists, singers, veterinarians, and retirees, and more people with fascinating backgrounds are in this race. Seventeen collegiate teams from around the country are vying not only for the coveted first place prize, but the chance to finish ahead of all other competing schools.

Unfortunately not all registered teams arrived for the start, as weather kept four race teams from reaching Fredericksburg. Another nerve-trying situation occurred at the start when Team 54, Terry Kane and Roxanne Ostrowski, returned from the starting line with a low voltage light. To remain contenders, they had three hours to secure the parts, complete repairs, and fly the timeline to start the race. I’m happy to report that they beat the clock and are still in the competition!

As the race teams navigate through the challenging race course, Team ForeFlight sends its best wishes for a safe and exciting adventure! Find out more about the race teams here, and join us as we track their progress here.

New Pilot Scores Sporty’s Sweepstakes Plane with ForeFlight Purchase

Sporty's Michael Wolf congratulating sweepstakes winner Rick Okikawa.

Last month we participated in Sporty’s Annual Fly-In and enjoyed free food, fellowship, flying—and a special surprise. Always a highlight of the event is the announcement of the airplane sweepstakes winner. Sporty’s customers are automatically entered into the sweepstakes each time they make a purchase. This year that winner was Rick Okikawa from Sacramento, California. Rick’s winning purchase was a ForeFlight subscription bought on a whim when he ran into his flight instructor one day.

I had the opportunity to chat with Rick about his big win and what his plans are for his new plane:

“I was struggling looking at TFRs and my instructor happened to pass by and asked if he could help. He immediately saw what I was trying to do and said, ‘Wait, you don’t have ForeFlight? Let me show you what you can do’,” explained Rick. “He proceeded to pull out his iPad and started showing me everything from TFRs to airport details in the Directory. I immediately purchased an iPad and called up Sporty’s the same day to order ForeFlight.”

Rick considers himself new to flying, having started part-time about three years ago flying with the Cal-Aggie Flying Farmers out of the University of California Davis. In July of 2014 he sealed the deal, completing his flight training and becoming a licensed pilot.

“I’ve always had the interest and always wanted to fly. You can always make excuses—not enough time, not enough money. Things just fell into place for me; I had the time, I had the money, I didn’t have any more excuses to not fly.”

When I asked him about the winning phone call he received from Sporty’s, he said he thought it was a scam at first. And who could blame him? It’s not every day you get a call from someone trying to give you a new airplane!

What does Rick have planned for his new ride? “Currently my favorite places to fly are along the coast: Mendocino, Little Rivers, Monterrey, and flying the bay tour. I am looking forward to having the freedom to just get out and go when I want and not have to plan ahead to reserve a plane. I’d like to do some cross-country flying, and would even like to start training for mountain flying so I can take a trip to Lake Tahoe through the mountains.”

We thank Sporty’s for another unforgettable fly-in; we had a great time and it’s an event we’re sure Rick won’t forget either. Congratulations, Rick—wishing you blue skies in the new RV-12!

Where Are They Now: 2014 EAA ForeFlight Scholarship Winners

After naming our two recipients of the EAA ForeFlight Scholarship back in July, they wasted no time starting their aviation adventure. We caught up with Megan and Jacob recently and asked them a few questions about their flight training so far. Sit back, buckle up, we’re going to flight school!

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Megan Kerstein
With more interests than hours in her day, Megan set the bar high with lofty goals in mind for her pilot license. Becoming a flight surgeon or aviation medicine physician and volunteering for Angel Flight and Young Eagles were just a few things on her list to combine her two passions. Now, as a full time college student, Megan has officially added flight training to her extracurricular activities. In mid-September, Megan began her flight training at Air Associates of Missouri in St. Louis and online ground school through the Cessna/King Schools training program.

What has been the most exciting thing so far in your flight training?
Megan: It’s been really exciting to see how I progress from week to week. My first few lessons the instructor helped me pre-flight the plane, and now I do it all by myself. I’ve also learned how to talk to air traffic control, which I was initially nervous about, but I’ve gotten much more comfortable with doing it.

Has there been anything unexpected or that you have been surprised by in your training?
Megan: I’ve been surprised with all the factors that go into making a flight–beyond simply getting in the plane with the instructor and heading up to the sky. There’s a lot of preflight planning to look into, weather to check (and keep checking), fuel to check, the aircraft itself which must be meticulously inspected prior to flight, FAA airspace rules to understand, etc. Some of these things I would never have thought of prior to taking flight lessons, but now I better understand the intricacies of all of the “behind-the-scenes” work that goes into making a safe flight.

What have you learned so far?
Megan: I have learned about slow flight, stall recovery maneuvers, landings, pre-flighting the airplane, Air Traffic Control communication, and weight and balance calculations. Flight lessons have also been a great way to learn more about the topography of St. Louis/Missouri. This has helped with VFR flying, since I now know markers I can follow to get back to the airport, such as following the Missouri River.

Overall Megan loves flight training: “I look forward to my weekly lessons and next semester my class schedule allows me to take lessons during the week, so I’ll probably fly a couple of times a week.” said Kerstein. She is looking forward to an upcoming sightseeing-oriented flight where they will fly by the St. Louis Arch, “which will be pretty cool.” Yes, very cool, Megan, and you are one step closer to becoming a licensed private pilot!

Jacob Solo-Millionaire
Jacob Rasmussen
Seventeen year old Jacob Rasmussen may not know exactly what he wants to do with his license, but he knows he wants to be in the air and that is just fine with us. Jacob searched carefully to find the perfect instructor—a decorated military pilot of 35 years who owns flight schools around the Washington area. Here’s what Jacob shared with us about his experience so far…

How did you select your flight training?
Jacob: When initially starting my search for a flight instructor, I wanted to make sure that I would be able to find just the right instructor to train with. I had hoped for someone with some form of military background. Through becoming more involved and establishing relationships within the aviation community, I was eventually able to find who I was looking for and became well acquainted with Don Karpen of Karpen Aviation. Don was a US Naval fighter pilot and Top Gun graduate. He has racked up well over 12,000 hours total time, with over 8,000 hours as an instructor. As soon as we met and I had an orientation flight, I knew he was the best choice.

Where are you in your training and what have you learned so far?
Jacob: I started with my first lesson on November 14, and since have completed 11 hours total time thus far, with 1.1 hours of it being soloing. Within those 11 hours, I have made 53 landings. I have completed approximately 2/3 of my ground school training and am absorbing all of what I learn very quickly. Being in command of an aircraft has taught me to become very assertive, not only in the airplane itself, but also on the ground and everyday life.

Has there been anything unexpected or that you have been surprised by in your training?
Jacob: The most surprising thing has to be how quick I took to the airplane. Through just a little application of knowledge and perseverance, it has become almost second nature to be defying gravity in an aluminum tube with a bucket seat, powered by a lawnmower engine. I am very appreciative of the opportunity ForeFlight has given me to have the ability to not only pursue my passion, but also be able to complete it in the very near future. Thank you ForeFlight!

Thanks for the update, Megan and Jacob! We will stay tuned for more.

EAA ForeFlight Scholarship Winners Announced

We had an overwhelming response to our two flight training scholarships with over 150 applicants! Thank you to everyone who participated. It was inspiring to hear from so many ambitious people who are eager to earn their wings. We are pleased to present the two finalists who will go on to pursue their flight training with a little help from ForeFlight. Here’s a brief snapshot of Jacob and Megan:

Megan Kerstein

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At age fifteen Megan discovered her home in the sky when she flew with an instructor for the first time. Following that experience, Megan participated in the Southern Illinois University Summer Wings program where she logged five hours of flight time. Since then she has dreamt of finishing her primary flight training. Now nineteen years old, Megan wants to be a flight surgeon or aviation medicine physician, a path that will allow her to pursue both of her passions. Being a Naval or Air Force flight surgeon is in her sights, and beyond that Megan would like to use her license to volunteer for Angel Flight and Young Eagles.

Jacob Rasmussen

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Jacob is an active sixteen year old who participates in choir, acting and directing theater productions, tennis, ballroom dancing, and is the youngest member of a numismatic investment and collecting club. Growing up with an Uncle and a Grandfather who were pilots was enough to give Jacob the desire to earn his wings. Jacob would like to become an air medical pilot with the same company for which his Grandfather flew. Helping others in emergency need will fulfill his desire to be a part of something bigger than himself. In addition, Jacob would like to build his own airplane one day. He is currently enrolled in ground school.

Stay tuned as we follow these two on their paths to becoming licensed Private Pilots.

Crossing Flight Paths With Able Flight (And A Nudge For Aspiring Pilots)

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Here at ForeFlight we live and breathe aviation and we love inspirational aviation-related stories, especially when they hit close to home. We thought we’d take a moment to share this one with you.

Many of you may know Pete Vincent who is one of our fanatical Pilot Support Team members. When Pete is not busy helping ForeFlight customers, he is a flight instructor at Redbird Skyport in San Marcos, Texas (HYI).

Pete recently shared with us that one of his students, Ryan Kelly, is an Able Flight scholarship recipient. ForeFlight has long supported Able Flight, a nonprofit organization that gives aspiring pilots with disabilities the means and opportunity to learn to fly, or to return to flight after becoming disabled. By pure coincidence, Pete became Ryan’s instructor at Redbird when Ryan decided to complete his fixed-wing Private Pilot License.

Staff Sgt Ryan Kelly was wounded in Iraq in 2003 by an IED, however his injury has been no obstacle to his determination to learn to fly. He graciously shared his story with us:

“I’d always wanted to fly but prior to losing my leg I wore glasses and I couldn’t qualify to fly for the Army. After my injury I got lasik and used my VA education benefits to learn how to fly helicopters. My goal was to also learn how to fly airplanes but time and circumstances got in the way. However,  I’m very excited that through the help of Able Flight and the team at Redbird I’ve now been able to continue to pursue my goal of becoming a fixed wing aviator.”

Ryan graduated cum laude from Embry Riddle University in Arizona and also earned his helicopter pilot and helicopter instructor certificates. Ryan’s initial airplane training took place at Philly Sport Pilot, a flight school established by Able Flight graduate Sean O’Donnell of Philadelphia.

Ryan’s scholarship through Able Flight allowed him to obtain a Light Sport license and now, with the help of Pete and Redbird, he passed his fixed-wing Private Pilot check ride on February 6, 2014 (Yay, Ryan!). He looks forward to continuing his flight training to add on commercial and instrument ratings, as well as an instructor certificate so he can help fellow wounded warriors and other disabled people discover all they can accomplish through learning to fly.

Ryan says the biggest challenge he faced early on in his airplane training was learning how to operate toe brakes with the artificial limb, however with the advice of some fellow amputee aviators and a little practice he overcame this challenge. He refers to aviation as “the great equalizer”. On the ground, he may not be able to run as fast or jump as high as someone with two legs, but in the air his prosthetic is a non-issue and he can fly the same as someone with two legs.

Ryan after a patient flight with PHI Air Medical.

The coolest part of Ryan’s story is that he continues to serve as an EMS helicopter pilot for PHI Air Medical. He says he gets to fulfill two passions: flying for a living while at the same time helping the people who live in his community, often on their worst day.

We asked Ryan and Pete to share their advice for aspiring pilots. Here’s what they had to say from both the student and instructor points of view.

Ryan says:

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“Go for it! I love flying and can’t imagine it not being part of my life. It’s hard to describe the feeling of taking to the air when you’re in control of the airplane or helicopter. I really think everyone should at least try it once!”

We couldn’t agree more. Take that introductory flight at your local airport. It may just change your life for the better, and we’d love for you join the pilot community.

Pete offers this advice:

“Learning to fly is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things you can accomplish in your lifetime. Succeeding as a pilot is not much different than succeeding in school; you will learn to become the Pilot In Command, which means you take responsibility for your own success.

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If you are interested in learning to fly, I recommend investing in a pilot prep course, like those available at Sporty’s, and completing the written test before commencing training. This way, you get the hard part out of the way!

When evaluating flight schools, you should also consider how simulator technology is incorporated into the curriculum. The use of simulators has allowed my students to progress through training faster and retain concepts better between flights. Plus, simulators are cost-effective, and can be flown any day of the week regardless of the weather outside.”

Solid guidance, Pete.

And if you haven’t heard of Able Flight, we encourage you to take a moment to meet the Able Flight pilots. What they have done to inspire themselves and to overcome adversity inspires us and we hope they have the same affect on you, too.

Learn more about Ryan in this AVweb podcast.

Letters to ForeFlight: Power Loss

From the mail box today:

I haven’t flown in 20 years, so when I became current again last year, the first thing I purchased was ForeFlight for my iPad.  It is easier to master than the Garmin 430 in the plane.  So yesterday, while flying from Long Island Republic (KFRG) to Essex County (KCDW), I lost all power in the plane over Long Island sound.  Here I am in a high traffic area, low visibility and starting to stress.  FRG had become IFR so no going back there. With  ForeFlight, I was able to fly straight to my destination, fly by the tower and get the green light for landing.  Thanks for a great product.

ForeFlight Sponsors 17 Year Old’s Record-Setting Aviation Walkabout

Taylor De Ley is just your average 17 year-old pilot:  he earned his glider’s license on the morning of his sixteenth birthday, soloed an SEL airplane that afternoon; he’s logged more than 230 hours in 35 different aircraft – from the Beech 18 to the DeHavilland Beaver; he helped his father finish construction on an RV-4; and he has soloed a 1942 Stearman. All this while maintaining a 4.4 GPA in his Honors and AP high school classes.

Next Saturday, Taylor will depart Corona Airport (AJO) on the aviators version of a walkabout: he will fly the RV-4 he and his father built around the perimeter of the US, stopping along the way at the home airports of active EAA chapters. At each stop,  he will be promoting aviation to local youths. His first stop is Salinas (SNS), where he’ll meet and fly with Sean Tucker. From there, he’ll touch down at 35 more airports, including Key West (EYW). Once completed, Taylor will be the first 17 year old to have circumnavigated the entire border of the US.

Taylor contacted us earlier this year, asking for support. Being entrepreneurs, we pushed him to get creative and figure out a way to create a product out of his adventure.  The result: Taylor put together a promotional program where sponsors purchase branded aircraft decals that he would affix to his aircraft. ForeFlight purchased one of the first of those decals and has also equipped Taylor with software to help support his flight.

If you’d like to follow along, visit his trip blog on Facebook. If you want to help out, he’s still looking for anything that might come in handy on a trip like this (a Spot Connect or Spider Tracks, so his parents can keep tabs, might be a good donation!).

Taylor, good luck. You’re on the adventure of a lifetime and we wish you safe travels. See you at AirVenture.

Letters to ForeFlight: “Lifesavers”

Subject: Lifesavers

Hi Guys,

Once more I want to compliment you guys on your product and your outstanding response time to questions and issues.

More importantly I want to thank you for averting a potentially dangerous situation. While departing KTEB yesterday in N***** on the RUUDY TWO (RNAV) SID, in IMC, (5nm from KEWR) we experienced some mild turbulence.

The other pilot was in the process of changing a frequency on the Garmin 530W when he inadvertently bumped the data card door. The unit apparently thought that we had installed a new data card and initiated a 30 second power down and then a restart. We could not stop the process and were out of Navigation and Communication for approximately 1.5 minutes (seemed a lot longer). When the unit came back on line our rather complex flight plan had been wiped.

Fortunately I had ForeFlight programmed and running on my iPad and was able to complete the turns to our next two fixes and stay on course.

Thanks Again,

K.