Student Pilots fly to new heights

Kat Martin, Assistant News Editor

Many dream of flying airplanes as children, but few end up accomplishing this fantasy. However, some, such as senior Carl Baumann, can not only say that they made that dream a reality, but that they accomplished it as teenagers.

“I got my private pilot’s license last September, so I am certified to fly solo or with passengers,” Baumann, who is a first-year JROTC student, said. “Before that, I had been studying and practicing for about two to three years.”

Of all the hobbies practiced by the diverse student body, flying airplanes may be one of the rarest. Nonetheless, the activity itself does have a larger presence in Chantilly when compared to other schools thanks to the Air Force JROTC program.

“We cover basic topics about aviation [in JROTC],” Baumann said. “The military offers many opportunities for people interested in becoming a pilot. Although I want to fly for the airlines, it’s a great class for people who are interested in flying.”

While some student pilots, like Baumann, are interested in flying as a future career, it serves as a unique hobby for others.

“I initially wanted to join the Air Force when I was a kid,” senior William Nalls, who is training for a pilot’s license, said. “As I got older, I realized I wanted flying to be a hobby, not a career.”

Similarly, junior Julie Buschor was inspired to learn to fly by her dad, who flew for the Navy before becoming a commercial pilot.

“When [my dad] was [my] age, he already had his pilot’s license,” Buschor said. “He wanted me to have the same opportunity to fly.”

Apart from working toward her pilot’s license, Buschor is also building a small plane with her family. They have been building it for six months in their garage; it takes up the space of a single car. She plans to use it to practice flying once they finish building it.

“Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s stressful. Your life’s in your hands if you mess up,” Buschor said. “It’s a really cool experience, building something so awesome with my dad, especially when it’s something that we both enjoy.”

Learning how to fly a plane is similar to learning how to drive a car. The main difference is that there is a greater variety of pilot certifications than there are types of driving certifications. While pilots don’t have to deal with traffic, there is greater freedom and they must be vigilant in a way that is more involved than driving a car.

“When you’re driving a car, you have to be aware of other cars around you, but there are times where you don’t have to do anything,” Nalls said. “Whereas pilots are always doing something and must be constantly aware of everything that’s going on.”

Despite how intense flying can be, the student pilots don’t always view it as a stress-inducing activity.

“It’s very serene, especially when you’re by yourself. You get to sit back and look at the view,” Baumann said. “You’re busy, you’ve got stuff to do, but it can be a relaxing experience. It takes stress away from a busy life in high school.”