MODG News interviewed Gabriella Pfang, an 11th grader, about her working to get her pilot’s license.
1. What sparked your interest for flying?
I’ve always liked airplanes, but I got more interested after attending a Blue Angels (naval
air demonstration team) airshow. Then I went for a ride in a Cessna 172 and got a bad
case of the flying-bug.
2. How did you start working towards your pilot’s license?
I did some research, and then joined Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and the Commemorative Air
Force (CAF). Both organizations are geared towards aviation, and they provide a lot of
opportunities to youth.
3. What do you enjoy most about flying and why?
I could truthfully say everything, but special mention goes to either the view or the
wisecrack sense of humor that most pilots and technicians seem to have.
4. What criteria do you need to meet before becoming a pilot?
If you’re going for a PPL (Private Pilot License), you need paperwork, training, and
successful completion of exams. You also have to be 17.
More specifically, the paperwork includes passing a medical exam, applying for (and
obtaining) a student pilot certificate, and being able to speak, read, and write in English.
Actual training means at least 40 hours of flight time, endorsements, and completion of
ground school. Once that’s done, you have to pass written, oral, and practical exams with
a 70% or better.
5. How far have you come in this process of obtaining a license?
I’ve got all the paperwork and ground school completed. I’ll be taking the written test in
a month or so, and flight training will hopefully start this summer. Once that’s done, onto
6. What benefits are there of having a flying license?
There are many benefits, but I’d say travelling and learning head the list. As a private
pilot, you can fly anywhere at any time (weather, money, and the Federal Aviation
Administration permitting, that is). Aviation also means that you’re continually learning.
As a pilot, you learn to fly, but more importantly you learn how to respond in
7. Have you ever been nervous while flying? Have you ever had any mishaps?
I’m usually calm when flying, but the first time I was told to take the controls I freaked
out a bit. No mishaps so far, but I’m sure I’ll make my fair share of mistakes before I’m
8. What advice would you give someone trying for a pilot’s license?
Find a support group/organization and get involved in aviation as much as you can.
For me, that meant joining the CAF as a cadet. I can talk to pilots, ask questions, go
flying, spend time at an airport, marshal aircraft, and do supervised maintenance. I’ve
learnt a lot by just being in that environment. As I’m the only one in my family who’s
pursuing aviation, the support and mentorship is also incredibly important.