I was made aware of the WASP program towards the middle of my junior year through a family friend. Flying was something that I was never fully interested in because of the assumption that obtaining a pilot’s license is extremely difficult, especially due to the financial aspect. Personally, the opportunity to train for a private pilot’s license under the scholarship that WASP offers is something that is almost too good to be true. While the process takes approximately a year, it does require consistent effort and commitment in order to master the various aspects of flying as well as obtain all necessary knowledge needed to take the final written test. The learning environment is unlike any other I have ever experienced. During the ground school period there is a great deal of detailed information that I found fascinating which made learning considerably easier. I also found that a lot of the information learned in ground school carried over into some of my STEM classes in high school. I found that applying certain aviation principles to my physics and calculus classes made comprehension of different topics less difficult.
My instructor, Tim McSwain, was also a large reason for my success in the program. His magnitude of experience along with his persistent method of training has allowed me to thoroughly develop my flying techniques and become comfortable with flying planes by myself. There were certain points in my training that were more challenging and took more attention to master. It took weeks for me to fully grasp the technique of landing the airplane and I could feel the frustration building every time I failed to make a good landing. From this experience I learned that you cannot let frustration take over and deter you from achieving the overall goal. For me, landing an airplane became a lot like learning how to ride a bike; it just happened. Being persistent and regularly flying in order to maintain your skills and build upon them is essential to making the most of your flight training.
Ever since becoming involved with aviation I have learned of the endless opportunities for individuals with pilot’s licenses. If I did not have a plan for after graduation I would probably be driving myself crazy with having to choose a career path to take. However, after graduation from high school I am doing Navy ROTC at Virginia Tech and my goal is to become a pilot for the Navy. While flight training in the Navy is, I’m sure, nothing like private pilot training, I feel as if the opportunities provided through the WASP program have given me the greatest preparation and opportunity to be successful in my future. Even looking beyond the Navy, I see many possibilities for using my passion for flying and turning it in to a very rewarding occupation.
The opportunity this program has given me over the last year has been absolutely incredible. Without a doubt I would consider it a key that opens you up to a world of opportunities.