Private Pilot Program

Private Pilot Program Journal Entries

Matthew Starr - June 25, 2015

11 Jan 2015 Flight 1:
Flight training was an adventure! I enjoyed every minute of it. From my first solo to my check ride day it was amazing! My instructor (Dawn Bell) did a wonderful job in preparing me throughout the course and I am eternally grateful to her. Flying Skyhawk 737RC was lots of fun! Whether it was flying long cross-countries or just staying in the pattern and nailing some landings it was a blast! I am so very thankful to Col. Powley and Fight Foundation for giving me the opportunity to learn how to fly! They helped me fulfill a dream!

I am now the first homeschooled private pilot with Flight Foundation. I am 17 years old. I am living a dream! I look forwards to an exciting future in aviation that is all thanks to Flight Foundation and Col. Bill Powley! I am now getting ready to start my Instrument rating course at Advanced Flight and continuing the adventure! Pursue your dream of becoming a pilot with flight foundation! It will be worth it! - Matt Starr - PPL - KTRI - Skyhawk 737RC


Tyler Despard - June 16, 2014

Flight 1 (Lessons 1-2):
I will never forget opening the envelope my parents gave me the night after my eighth grade graduation. It was an odd shape and I remember it being very light, not at all what I expected. Indeed, that letter took me by surprise when I found a gift certificate to a local flight school for an hour introductory ride in a Cessna 172. I could not wait to go fly in the planes that I watched fly over my house a thousand times but I would have never dreamed that one day it would be me in the pilot's seat.

After that initial flight, flying took an unfortunate back seat. High school took my full attention and it wasn't until my junior year that I thought about flying again. Almost by accident, I made friends with a classmate who had just soloed through the FLIGHT Foundation. He was, of course, excited about this recent accomplishment and in turn rekindled my interest in flying. In the following months, I contacted LtCol Powley and began working towards my first solo in January 2014.

While training for my first solo, I received notice that I had been appointed to the United States Air Force Academy. This exciting news only fueled my desire to fly and be a pilot in our nation's military. I went on to complete the FLIGHT Foundation solo program in March 2014. Having accepted my nomination to the Academy, I was excited by all of the aviation opportunities that the Air Force offered cadets. Accordingly, I was quick to accept LtCol Powley's offer to sponsor me to earn my private pilot's license. A few short months later, I found myself finishing my final checkride just a week before reporting to the Academy for basic training.


My pilot's license is so much more than a card in my wallet. It is a source of immense pride and personal satisfaction in my abilities. It reminds me to seize every opportunity that life presents and to enjoy every second of my time, especially in the air. My pilot's license has opened doors into the aviation community here at the Academy, allowing me opportunities to fly and interact with fellow cadets and officers. Thanks to LtCol Powley and the FLIGHT Foundation, I have found a place at the Air Force Academy and quite possibly my career. No program has ever had such a lasting impact on my life.

Greg Hanson - May 12, 2009

April 23, 2009
My flight today was made up of a couple short hops to area airports. I took off from KVJI on this beautifully clear afternoon headed to Greenville airport. I navigated using my favorite method- pilotage and dead reckoning. I really enjoy the pre flight routine of plotting my course and picking landmarks. And there is nothing better than noting your position from the cockpit using your chart and also identifying for landmark from thousands of feet above the ground. I picked up a flight following as I passed through Tri-cities' airspace. After landing in Greenville and taxing back for take off I was headed to Rogersville airport. It was a pretty short flight. One landing and takeoff later I was headed back to Virginia Highlands. I picked up another flight following for the return trip, which went by very quickly thanks to a tailwind. I did one touch and go then a full stop landing and called it a day. It was a very successful day of flying which got me even closer to my required 40 hours.

April 24, 2009
Today was my first flight of check ride prep. I went up with my instructor Jeremy. We mainly focused on the performance take off's and landings. I wanted to be absolutely perfect with every soft field or short field landing. After loads of landings we went out and worked on turns around a point and S turns. After nailing all of those we flew out and worked on recovering from unusual attitudes. Then Jeremy had me close my eyes and once I was good and confused he had me simulate lost procedures. After a couple minutes of looking for landmarks and referencing VOR fixes I had us headed back into Virginia highlands to call it a day.

April 25, 2009
I arrived at the airport for an early morning flight and the second day of check ride prep. This time I went up with my other instructor Shane, just to get some different opinions. Right off the bat we went up and I nailed all my take offs and landings. Next, we headed to the local practice area to work on stalls and slow flight, which I always enjoy. My private pilot maneuvers and ground reference maneuvers were pretty sloppy today, but my instructor said I did fine. Often I get a little overly critical of my own flying and I just want everything to be spot on for my check ride.

April 26, 2009
Today was my third and final day of check ride prep. I'm already getting a little nervous about my exam. Me and Jeremy just went up and went over everything one more time. I nailed every maneuver! It was a huge relief to my nerves to fly that well. After today's flight I knew I was ready for my certificate, the only person left to prove it to was the examiner. After the flight I got signed off by Jeremy to take my check ride. It was amazing to think that my next flight would be my check ride! I only had one step left to go before I was officially a pilot.

May 12, 2009
The weather had finally cooperated and it was at last time for my check ride. I had already gotten my oral exam out of the way and Wayne (the examiner) said I passed with flying colors. I was pretty nervous as I walked out to the plane. I did a very thorough pre-flight inspection and before I knew it we were up in the air. I made myself take plenty of deep breaths to relax and focus on the task at hand. Even though I just finished it its hard to remember exactly what happened. I knew exactly what I was doing and things went relatively smooth. I just put my self on cruise control and did everything how I had been taught and had practiced so many times. I felt like a couple of maneuvers were pretty sloppy but they were all within the standards. By the time I was parking the aircraft I couldn't believe I'd finally done it. The check ride seemed to go by really quickly. Looking back it seems like one big blur. By the time Wayne handed me my temporary certificate I couldn't believe I was now a Private Pilot. It felt so good to finally accomplish this dream I've had for all these years. So now I am a certified Private Pilot with 44 hours under my belt and I really feel like the sky is the limit from here on out. I can not wait to take my dad and brother up flying with me.