CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — For many pilots, they can’t tell you just why they love flying so much.

For some, their family initially got them interested in flying.

“My grandfather had a plane when I was a kid,” said Timothy Bayne, the flight program manager and adjunct professor for Fairmont State University’s aviation program. “My grandfather encouraged me to keep it as a hobby, and I was like, ‘Why pay to do it if I can get paid to do it?'”

For other pilots, they do it because they feel drawn to it.

“I’m the first pilot in my family,” said Jason D. Vosburgh, assistant professor of aviation at FSU. “I started when I was 17 … there are a lot of students like this. You ask them how they go into it, and they don’t know. It’s just something they love. … It’s who we are.”

Having pilots join the workforce is very important right now, said Greg Lloyd, a recent graduate of the FSU aviation program.

“Air travel, year after year, is the safest form of travel. How many times do you see a broken down plane compared to a broken down car? Only a plane can carry 70 passengers across the country and do it again (the next day) for a week, and still be perfectly fine. Air travel is still the No. 1 form of travel, and you need pilots to do that,” Lloyd said. “They’re in dire need of pilots. … Aviation is definitely growing. Younger pilots are coming into the picture.”

There are several different kinds of pilots, ranging from hot air balloon to cargo to military to commercial to drone pilots. Each kind of piloting holds a different experience, Vosburgh said.

“You can discover one aviation adventure at a time, and each one in itself is an adventure,” he said.

Becoming a pilot was the natural choice for Andrew Calo, a junior at Fairmont State in the aviation program. His father was a pilot, he said.

“I’ve been around it my whole life … (it feels) at home,” Calo said. “(I’d like to do) initially military, and then move on to commercial.”

Flying is more than just being in the air. It takes years of practice and training and a deeper understanding of the instrument they use, the plane. Planes have several gauges and measuring tools that show several different readings, including the altitude of the plane, how level the plane is, a GPS, and much more.

“There are visual flight rules and instrument flight rules,” Bayne explained. “With visual, you rely on the tool, but looking out the window, you have to see and avoid … with instrument flight rules, it goes off the instruments. If you fly in a cloud, you can’t do visual … you can’t see anything. So you have to go off instruments.”

At FSU, they learn about the plane in a classroom, just like any other college class, Lloyd said.

“We learn about the instruments in the ground school,” Lloyd stated. “Then we take what we learn and put it into the aircraft.”

The appeal is individual, Bayne said, adding that he is drawn to the peacefulness that being in the air provides.

“The rest of the world’s fast-paced stuff, (and) even though we’re moving faster up there, it’s all relaxed,” Bayne said. “The sight for me … it’s beautiful.”

For Lloyd, his passion for aviation was something he believes might have been triggered before he was born.

“I’m not the first person in my family who wanted to be a pilot, (but I am) the first to have a license. My dad got me a video game for Christmas, Ace Combat, and (in the game) you went on missions in an old military aircraft. That’s what got me interested,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd went on to explain his grandfather had originally wanted to be a pilot.

“When my grandfather was in the Air Force in World War II, he always wanted to be a pilot but never had the money for it,” Lloyd said. “It’s really cool, because I’m following what he couldn’t do and do what he wanted to do. I still have his Air Force aviators issued in the 1940s or 1950s, that are now being worn by me. Maybe that’s where my love of aviation really comes from. Maybe it’s in our blood.”


Information from: The Exponent Telegram, http://www.theet.com