Dreaming Big and Flying High at GCC

Observatory

Kathy Bakowicz

High Above Griffith Park: Student pilots see the world from a different perspective

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Alexandra Duncan, Staff Writer
September 18, 2013
Filed under Features

The little Cessna 172 slowly crept up to the runway at Whiteman Airport on a hazy Sunday as GCC flying instructor Edwin Sahakian checked off the long list of procedures that guaranteed a safe flight before takeoff.

“Autopilot off. Brakes all clear. Master control on. Flaps are off. Transponder standby. OK. Clear for take off,” he said into the microphone attached to his headset.

Speeding down the runway, the Cessna 172 slowly lifted off and leveled at around 2,500 feet in the air.

“Once you’ve seen the world from a little airplane, there’s nothing like it,” said Curtis Potter, Chief Pilot and Department Chair of Aviation/Administration of Justice Department.

Joshua Sanchez, 19, a pilot-in-training at GCC, has wanted to fly since he was a little kid. Now in his second year at GCC, he plans to obtain his private pilot’s license by Christmas. Sanchez’s father, an aspiring pilot himself, was kept from earning his pilot’s license by his mother and grandmother who were concerned for his safety.

“They actually brainwashed me into wanting to become a pilot,” Sanchez said. His first flight was “exhilarating” and he highly recommends the program.

Sanchez has lofty goals. His goal is to be an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), but to first get his private pilot’s license at GCC, transfer, get his bachelor’s degree and join the Airforce.

“Flying is simple and easy, it’s landing that’s hard,” Sanchez said.

Another student on the flight path to get his pilot’s license is Angel Maravelas, 19, an aspiring Airline Transport Pilot.

“Ever since i was a kid, I loved the thrill of looking at planes in the sky and wondering how they worked,” said Maravelas.

His first flight was at the age of 7 where he went to Whiteman Airport. Pilots there were giving free one-hour discovery rides. According to Maravelas, “it was scary” but as a child, he was “amazed.”

license at GCC, transfer, get his bachelor’s degree and join the Airforce.

“Flying is simple and easy, it’s landing that’s hard,” Sanchez said.

Another student on the flight path to get his pilot’s license is Angel Maravelas, 19, an aspiring Airline Transport Pilot.

“Ever since i was a kid, I loved the thrill of looking at planes in the sky and wondering how they worked,” said Maravelas.

His first flight was at the age of 7 where he went to Whiteman Airport. Pilots there were giving free one-hour discovery rides. According to Maravelas, “it was scary” but as a child, he was “amazed. His inspiration comes from the Blue Angels, a team of top navy pilots that put on public air shows. On a personal level, his inspiration comes from his uncle, who recently passed away.

“He guided me through my childhood. He was the one saying ‘You can do whatever you want to do,’” Maravelas said recalling his uncle’s words of inspiration. Maravelas plans on getting his private pilot’s license by the end of the semester and wants to go all the way to commercial flight training at GCC. The flight program opened his “eyes to so many things.” Maravelas said he saved “money and time.”

GCC owns two Cessna 172 airplanes for the pilot training program, both equipped with avionics,  including Garmin 430 GPS navigation systems, in-flight traffic information service and terrain avoidance displays.

There are three requirements for earning a private pilot’s license and it takes two semesters to complete. The first requirement is passing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) knowledge test, which is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions and requires a score of at least 70 percent to pass. Private Pilot Ground School is made up of two private pilot labs, an overall 48 hours of flight instruction and 11 hours of solo flight.

The second requirement is a medical certificate signed by a FAA doctor who conducts a physical and checks vision, blood pressure and other bodily functions that directly affect flight.

The third and final requirement is flight training which is half oral exam and half flight. According to Potter, the exam “can last up to three hours. The instructor wants to be sure you know what you’re doing up there.” From there the Designated Pilot Examiner or DPE gives a recommendation and decides an aspiring pilot’s destiny.

Sanchez’s advice to young pilot’s was simply, “Get good grades, practice multi-tasking and just keep going.”

The cost for private pilot flight training at GCC, which cover lab fees, tuition fees, books, supplies, FAA knowledge test fee, FAA medical exam fee and FAA examiner’s fee is $8,000. According to Potter, obtaining a private pilot’s license can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000.

 

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