Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Many Roads To Aviation

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

Aviation Mentors
The idea of a mentor—someone who serves as a trusted counselor and helps you along a path—isn’t unique to aviation. But a mentor is critical in aviation because learning to fly isn’t an easy task.

Though the skills required aren’t exactly superhuman, the proper combination of skill and knowledge is essential. Mentors help when the going gets rough (like learning landings when every student thinks he or she is the only one “not getting it”). For film editor Kim Furst, a mentor was the missing piece of the flight-training puzzle.

Furst was editing the now-famous aviation film One Six Right when she began getting interested in aviation. She was fortunate to meet Oracle air show pilot Sean Tucker, who invited Furst to his King City, Calif., Tutima Training Academy. “He gave me a full aerobatic introduction to flying,” laughs Furst. “He could see I loved it.” Tucker served as an initial mentor, even loaning his own J-3 Cub to the task of getting Furst into flight training. She spent the next 13 hours training in that Cub with an instructor.

After an eight-month hiatus from flying due to her busy work schedule, Furst resolved to finish her certificate and went to a local FBO to get back into flight training—this time in a Cessna 172. She met National Flight Instructor of the Year Jeffrey Robert “Mossy” Moss through her work in films. The meeting would prove pivotal to her flying.

“Mossy gave me structure and introduced me to two great training manuals—Rod Machado’s book and Ralph Butcher’s Skyroamers training manual,” says Furst. “He gave me a road map for training.” Moss checks in with Furst once a week to check on her progress. He does seemingly small things that make a big impact, like giving Furst a Cessna 172 cockpit poster to help her with memory checklist items. As a mentor, Moss is a resource to call when questions arise, and is a patient source of encouragement. “I was inspired to fly by Sean,” Furst tells me, “and Mossy made it seem possible.”

U.S. Military
Dan Ventre was in junior high school when a friend of his father’s took him up in a small Piper, and he fell in love with flying. Without any financial support, Ventre made it a point to work odd jobs so he could pursue flying lessons. He found an instructor who had been a WWII P-51 pilot. “He was tough but he taught me excellent stick-and-rudder basics.”


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