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Ryan Royal

I have wanted to have a career in flying for my entire life. I remember wearing a flight suit as a toddler that my Dad had made for me in Korea.  We even had a trip to Kunsan and I remember the stewardesses taking me to the cockpit to talk to the pilots and see all the instruments and controls.  It has been a dream to follow in those footsteps. My dad was an F-16 pilot so I spent a lot of time around fighter squadrons and the flight line to see how they operate. We would sit off the departure end of the runway and watch the afterburner takeoffs at night.  There were many Fini flights, changes of command, simulator tours and airshows, all contributing to my love of airplanes.  Many of our family friends are military or airline pilots as well. Each one has told me stories and gave me advice that has only strengthened my love and desire for a career in aviation. The first time I heard about the WASP program was during my senior year of high school.

I was already interested in aviation and had been touring colleges like Embry-Riddle and Florida Tech which offered aviation programs. My dad found out about the scholarship and sent me a link to an application. I saw how great of an opportunity this program could be and applied as quickly as I could. A couple of weeks later I got an interview and went on a short flight. I knew from that very moment that I was going to love it.

My entire experience with the WASP program has been great and I am incredible thankful to be a part of it. My instructor, David Otey, is incredibly knowledgeable and teaches the material in a way that is easy to learn. I have always been able to get help with my ground work and with any questions I have while in the air. Through these teachings, I have learned how to take off, land, preform s-turns, steep turns, stall recoveries, plan a cross country flight, and so many other maneuvers.

There is one memory from flying that stands out above all others. My first solo flight was an unforgettable experience and gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Being trusted to operate a complex piece of machinery by myself made me more confident in my abilities and solidified my love for flying. I am extremely lucky to have been exposed to this amazing community and look forward to continuing my career in aviation.