Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Many Roads To Aviation


Real pilot stories show how passion and dedication equal flight-training success


Melanie Endsley never set out to become a jet pilot. “The plan was just for me to take some safety pilot lessons since I would be flying with a pilot friend in his jet,” explains Endsley. But after just a few hours, she was taking formal flying lessons. “It was not my intention to train for my license, but I really enjoyed flying and I felt like I was pretty good at it.”

She finished her private pilot certificate training in just three months with about 88 hours of flying time, including a few hours flying the Avidyne glass panel. After taking only a few weeks off, Endsley dove right into instrument training. To build cross-country time in more complex aircraft, she flew nearly 30 hours in a turbocharged Cessna 182. One of Endsley’s instructors rewarded her with a flight in a Cessna Citation Mustang jet, and Endsley was enamored of it. She earned her instrument rating just five months after her private certificate and added some 70 more hours of time in the Cessna 172.


The few hours in the Mustang inspired her to start training in the larger Cessna CJ3 jet, with a cruising speed of some 420 knots and a 1,900 nm range. With just 30 hours in the airplane, Endsley attended crew training in Arizona in the CJ3 and earned her multi-engine rating in that airplane. Progressing briskly, Endsley was accepted into SimuFlite’s Initial Training for the single-pilot type rating, which she earned some 40 hours later.

“Flying a jet is just an amazing experience,” she says. “There really is nothing like it. There’s a lot going on, but it is intensely rewarding.”

What makes Endsley’s story unique is she earned the single-pilot jet rating with only about 300 hours of flight time—more than half of it in single-engine piston airplanes. It’s an illustration of what hard work and determination can accomplish. “I was lucky,” says Endsley. “I trained early in glass cockpits and I was able to count my jet time as multi-engine time. That and really good instructors got me where I am.”
Though it may seem out of the ordinary to earn a single-pilot jet rating after only 300 hours of flying tme, Endsley's experience shows that passion and dedication can be more important than hours flown.
Though it may seem out of the ordinary to earn a single-pilot jet rating after only 300 hours of flying time, Endsley’s experience shows that passion and dedication can be more important than hours flown. “I was determined to fly jets, and it didn’t really seem out of reach at all,” she says.

Endsley started her training in a traditional, local flight school just like most of us. But it was her personal motivation and desire to do something special that make her story extraordinary. Here’s a look at more traditional routes to the cockpit. Just like Endsley’s, these stories illustrate how passion and dedication took each pilot on a journey of personal discovery and achievement.





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