While most teenagers are spending time with friends, playing sports or just relaxing, some are flying planes. Juniors Paige Hansen and Theodore Zaharias are two such student pilots. Hansen found inspiration from her father, who has been flying planes since she was a child. This introduced Hansen to the world of aeronautics.

“I started flying because of my dad,” Hansen said. “My dad started flying as a hobby when I was in second grade. He was diagnosed with a kidney disease and finally decided to accomplish his lifelong goal of becoming a private pilot. Ever since he began flying, he started taking me along with him to air shows. He basically immersed me in aeronautic culture.”

Later, Hansen chose to also pursue a pilot license of her own.

“In October of tenth grade, I decided to enroll in flying lessons of my own because my dad needed a copilot in case anything were to happen to him while he was flying the family,” Hansen said.

Zaharias also began flying because of his father.

“It started when my dad was at the airport for an introductory flight a couple years ago,” Zaharias said.  “It turns out that I enjoyed it more than him.  After that, I took lessons sporadically, probably about once every two months, but now that I’m finally old enough to get my license, it’s been more serious and I’ve been flying once or twice a week.”

Although Zaharias is now old enough to get his license, he still has a formidable amount of work that he must do.

“I’m about to fly solo,” Zaharias said. “Then the focus becomes cross country flying, then test prep and finally a check ride, test and oral exam.”

Hansen is well on her way to getting her license and hopes to receive it at the end of this summer, but she still has a lot of work to do.

“I still have to take a written exam, get nine and a half more hours of time flying solo, master all the maneuvers I am working on, take my cross country solo and then take my check ride with an FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] examiner,” Hansen said.

Hansen’s family takes full advantage of its flying ability. They frequently fly to different locations in California during the weekends.

“We own a Bonanza six seat plane,” Hansen said.  “We typically fly it to different towns in California. We fly down to Los Angeles for long weekends and fly to Monterey or Carmel on a typical Sunday.”

Although flying takes up much of Hansen’s time, she says that it does not negatively affect her schoolwork, but rathter it helps her academics.

“Flying is based around physics, science and math, so you have to understand it all to fly,” Hansen said.  “Flying is cool because you can see the science at work.  It’s like the ultimate science experiment.”

Zaharias agrees that flying influences his schoolwork positively as an exciting application.

“Studying aviation is way more interesting than any schoolwork, so it does have an impact on my schoolwork, but it’s a positive one,” Zaharias said.

According to Zaharias, one of the perks of flying is the people he meets along the way.

“I get to meet lots of interesting people at the airport, such as my flight instructors and people at the flying club, Advantage Aviation,” Zaharias said.

According to Hansen, flying is another step toward maturation.

“When you’re little, your world is based around the town in which you live and go to school,” Hansen said.  “When you get your driver’s license, your world expands to where you can drive to. Once I receive my pilot’s license I will have the freedom to go even farther.  I’ll basically be able to go anywhere I want to go.”

Both students love flying and suggest it to any students interested.

“It’s cool to see things from a different perspective and to escape the forces that hold us down on the surface,” Zaharias said.  “I would suggest flying to anyone.”

Hansen shares these feelings when piloting as well.

“I love flying,” Hansen said.  “I’ve grown up with it and it’s always been fun for me.”

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