Able Flight pilots from the Class of 2015 on the Main Stage at this year’s EAA Airventure.
Amid the wall-to-wall schedule of activities at Oshkosh, the most memorable moment for us was the Able Flight Wing Pinning Ceremony. ForeFlight proudly sponsors flight training scholarships for Able Flight, a non-profit organization that enables people with disabilities to challenge themselves through flight and aviation career training. Able Flight pilots achieve aviation goals some might say are impossible.
Tyson Weihs, our CEO and co-founder, had the honor of pinning wings on pilot Randy Green at this year’s EAA Airventure. Randy is an incredible gentleman who was born without hands or feet. His lifelong, unflinching desire to be a pilot and his many aviation accomplishments speak to how he doesn’t let his disability stop him from achieving his goals.
ForeFlight CEO and co-founder, Tyson Weihs, joins pilot Randy Green on stage for the Wing Pinning ceremony.
Able Flight pilot Randy Green receives his wings from ForeFlight’s Tyson Weihs.
Randy’s dreams of becoming a pilot began in an Ercoupe that his father purchased so he and his brother could learn to fly. Taking those childhood dreams and turning them into a career, Randy earned his Private Pilot certificate in 1994 and quickly continued on to gain instrument, commercial, multi-engine and flight instructor ratings. Randy doesn’t use any special adapted equipment to operate hand controls and in his first year instructing he logged more than 1000 hours teaching others to fly.
Randy’s ultimate goal was to become a Corporate Pilot and after logging the hours, ratings, and showing others that he could do just about anything, he set his sights on completing his Air Transport Pilot rating. With the help of the Able Flight Career Training Scholarship, Randy passed his ATP check-ride in April of this year.
A recent job opportunity took Randy, his wife, and two daughters to Idaho where he now flies a corporate plane for a locally based company. Randy’s story is truly inspirational and a testament to never giving up on your dreams. Congratulations Randy on all of your accomplishments, we know there will be many more to come!
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!
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 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.
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:
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 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.