The Dream of Flight
By Rick Castaneda
Humans, as early as they could distinguish birds and knew what they were, must have dreamed of flying. To be free of all attachments to the earth, to be truly unencumbered and dance through the air. This is why we have Superman, Peter Pan, the Rocketeer…even the more earth-bound heroes can fly through the air somehow, either by Batwing, spider web, or empowered iron suit. Why do we yearn so strongly to fly? To those at the open house at Mach 1 Aviation flight school, the answer is self-evident.
"I always wanted to fly, ever since I was a kid," said Edward Makaron, volunteer pilot for the Civil Air Patrol. "I was one of those six-year-olds, running all over with a toy airplane in his hand. I could spend all day at the airport." In fact, the previous Saturday, he'd done just that. Sitting on the Van Nuys Airport tarmac and watching all the planes come in, and fly out again. "I can't get enough of these things."
"You think you're into cars when you're in high school, and then you get into a really nice plane," said Jamie Wedow, another flying enthusiast. "You know how there was that really nice car out front?" he said, speaking of the Lamborghini in the airport parking lot. "I didn't even pay attention to it. I'm like; there are planes on the other side of this building. Forget about the car."
Jason Price, President and Chief Instructor at Mach 1 Aviation, felt the calling while he was a police officer. "It just wasn't for me. So I started going to Glendale College flight school." It was there that he met instructor and still-friend Kurt Potter, also in the police department, who taught flying part-time. "I've been teaching for nearly thirty years, and I could tell he was a natural pilot from the beginning. Every maneuver you teach has a four-step process-you explain it, you demonstrate the maneuver, the student tries it, and then you discuss. Jason could get it right off the bat."
Price soon quit the police department and started going to school full-time. "As soon as I started, I knew that's what I wanted to do," said Price of the experience. The opportunities are many for a young pilot, from flying for a commercial airline, flying as a charter pilot, or, like Potter, being a pilot for the police department. But as Price began tutoring others in order to build up the hours of flight experience needed for certain flight certifications, he fell in love with teaching. "Signing someone off to do their own solo for the first time is the most exciting and nervous thing I've ever done," said Price. And so, in October of 2007, Price founded his own school.
Mach 1 Aviation, now a year old, is thriving as other flight schools around the country fail. This is partly due to the love their instructors have for flying, and partly to do with their brand new fleet of Cirrus planes. "The reason people want their flying license is to go places," said Makaron. "You could rent a Cessna for about half as much, but you're paying by the hour, and it'll take you twice as long to get there."
Makaron, a business consultant by trade, was always this pragmatic. Before he had the money to do so, he started his flight training by taking advantage of the same kind of demo flights that Mach 1 Aviation was offering last Saturday. "Phoenix, Hawaii, Santa Monica, here…I'd take these $45 demo flights all over. It was the economic alternative to flight school. We'd be up in the plane, and they'd hand over the controls, and they'd say, 'Really? This is your first time?' And I'd say, 'Oh, I've just been playing a lot of flight simulators on the computer.' "
Cary Hansen, an entrepreneur who currently runs a daycare center, never had the dream of flying as a child. "It wasn't until I had a son in Iraq, flying, that I really thought about it. But you know, it's never too late to acquire new interests." Now sixty one, Hansen was excited to go up on her first demo flight. "It's like a young thrill!"