Kelly O’Leary Interview

Ever wondered if being a pilot would be a good career for you? Well, sit back and enjoy MODG News’s interview with pilot and MODG highschool student Kelly O’Leary for some first-hand information about flying airplanes.

Q. What first got you interested in flying airplanes?

A. My Dad has been in aviation all his life so for as long as I remember I’ve been around planes. When I was fourteen my Dad had a training plane that he owned in town so he asked my siblings and I if we wanted to learn to fly. My older brother, Luke and myself were interested so we started that summer.

Q. How long have you been flying?

A. It’s been two years now and I have nearly a hundred hours of total flight time.

Q. Do you need any kind of training before you’re allowed to fly?

A. Typically before starting to fly you’ll have some ground training with your flight instructor who will give you a lesson on the principles of flight and an introduction into the vast world of aeronautical knowledge. Afterwards you’ll study and train with your instructor until you’re ready to solo and later to get your Private Pilot licence. Additional training is needed for the ratings and other licences that allow you to fly more difficult weather conditions, get a job as a commercial or airline pilot, or as a flight instructor.

Q. As a minor, are there any special guidelines or requirements you have to follow when flying?

A. To begin flight training you just need to be mature enough to understand fully and assess the risks and responsibilities of being a pilot. You also need to be tall enough to reach the pedals (I’m short so I need to use a cushion). There are age requirements to solo (16) and get your licence (17).

Q. How long is your typical flight?

A. A training flight is typically one to two hours, cross-country flights are longer.

Q. What’s your favorite part of flying an airplane, and why?

A. Where I live in Bozeman, Montana it’s really, quite beautiful. We have great flying in the end of spring, summer, and beginning of fall. The terrain and landscape here is incredible, a lot of mountains, rolling hills, and valleys. My favorite part about being able to fly is when I get to fly up in the mountains with my Dad.

Q. What’s the scariest/worst thing about flying, and why?

A. The worst thing about flying is when there is moderate to heavy turbulence or a change in wind direction and velocity near the ground. In the little planes it can be problematic because it’s not just uncomfortable, it’s also difficult to control.

Q. Do you plan on getting a pilot’s license?

A. I plan on getting my licence as soon as I turn seventeen.

Q. Do you fly just for fun, or do you plan on making it your career?

A. I’m definitely going to aim for becoming a commercial or corporate jet pilot. Being a pilot is a great career. It’s fun and challenging and you get to travel the world while on the job. It pays really well and you end up being able to pay off all of the expenses and start to make a profit far sooner that you would if you chose to be a doctor or lawyer. Also, right now there is a huge shortage in pilots, especially female pilots, who make up less than 7% of the industry.

Q. Finally, is flying something you would encourage other young people to try out?

A. I would definitely recommend other young people, who are looking for a great career, to look into aviation.