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Featured Alumni – Parker

Hello! My name is Parker and I received my PPL (private pilot license) from Inflight. I grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota and went to Wayzata High School.  I then moved on to college at Northern Michigan University where I received my undergraduate degree in Marketing.  Since graduating I have worked at a few different corporations before finding my current role at Target, in downtown Minneapolis.  Since Target offers some help with tuition reimbursement I decided to start the MBA program at the University of Iowa. Between work and school, I like to golf, run, bike, snowboard, cross country ski, play hockey, travel and get in the air whenever possible!      

 

I Parker, have been interested in aviation ever since I can remember.  When I grew up, my Dad was a property manager for Northwest Airlines based out of Minneapolis.  Although he wasn’t a pilot and never received his pilot’s license we did get to go on quite a few trips because of the airline perks.  One day my dad let me walk through the hangers at MSP, the flight simulators and even got me in the cockpit of a 747.  I can’t imagine a kid not being fascinated with airplanes and flight after that experience.  Since then I thought about going in the air force or navy to become a pilot.  When I found out how competitive it was I thought about going to school to become an air traffic controller.  Then, I started reading that with future automation air traffic controllers might become obsolete so I went into business instead. The last few years I have read plenty of articles how the military is now struggling to find pilots and the air traffic control position is alive and well and also in need of employees.  Ironic how that happens. 

 

After college, I started traveling for work.  The company I worked for had multiple different citation jets and we got to fly private out of a small FBO to various cities throughout the country.  One day when I was sitting in the airport waiting for our pilot to say, “Let’s go”, I read a sign that said Intro Flight, schedule today.  I was intrigued.  I got home later that night and did some research.  I found out the airport I was flying out of had a flight training service and offered a reasonable introduction flight rate.  I thought, I’ll just get a taste of what it is actually like to be in the pilot seat.  Once we lifted off the runway, I was hooked. It is such a thrill taking off your first time in the front seat.  I got to take control of the plane and feel the controls of the plane when we took off and landed.  I also learned that I could even start counting that flying time towards my private pilot’s license.  

 

I only got about 10 hours of flight training completed before I decided to take a different day job back in Minneapolis.  I quickly started doing research, looking at a few different flight training companies.  I reached out to Inflight because it seemed like they had the best flexibility in training with a bunch of instructors, a solid fleet of planes, and had competitive pricing (especially if you join the club). I contacted inflight and was up in the air with an instructor the next day.  I was able to pick up where I left off, finish my flight training, and received my private pilot’s license a short time later.  The biggest perk to inflight, when you are trying to get through your license(s), is that they have various instructors and similar planes.  Even if your primary instructor is busy and the plane you usually fly in is reserved during the time you want, there will be another instructor and a nearly identical plane you can book to go out and practice your skills and build hours.

 

One of my favorite memories learning to fly was completing my first solo.  Once you get checked off by your instructor, but before you have your actual license, the instructor gets out of the plane and you fly a loop in the pattern, taking off and landing by yourself.  It was such a surreal feeling, I will never forget the enjoyment and nerves that came over me on this first experience. It was so exciting and freeing.

 

I(Parker) now have my instrument rating and about 250 hours but I still haven’t flown all that far away. Although I haven’t gone all too far, I do have two favorite places that are a must see.  One is Madeline Island, an island in Lake Superior, just north of Ashland, WI.  You can fly there in about 2 hours, use the free bikes they have at the airport to bike into town and even camp under your wing or get a place in town for the night.  The second is a paved landing strip right on a golf course called voyager village near Siren, WI. You can fly there in just over an hour to play a round of golf, play some tennis, go swimming or just grab some food.  This past summer, my buddy and I left work at 4pm, flew out there, played a round of 9, and flew home at sunset.  What’s cooler than that?

 

Currently, I(Parker) am a part owner at a different club that fly’s Cherokees, low wing aircraft. Inflight has a Cherokee Arrow but they also have a Cirrus and a lot of high wing Cessna’s.  I miss the Cessna’s (high wing aircraft) that Inflight has.  It is fun getting in a Cessna because of the visibility you have, you can see everything below you, unlike with low wing aircraft.  But, if you are craving to jump in a new or different aircraft, they have that too!

 

If I(Parker) could give advice for someone in training it would be two things.

  1. Stick with it!
  2. Practice what you feel uncomfortable doing!  The one thing I hated doing during training was power on stalls. I did them just enough to where my instructor felt okay with how I was performing them.  When it came time for my check ride, wind was gusting at 25kts, I went to do a power on stall, and flipped the plane over my left wing because I didn’t utilize enough right rudder.  If you aren’t sure what this means, ask an instructor or YouTube it.  It shouldn’t happen if you feel comfortable and are doing it right.  I passed every other skill with flying colors but needed to go back up and get this skill checked off.  I was able to get back with an instructor at Inflight the next day to practice some more and even took my re-test of that skill that day.  I passed. Needless to say, I failed at first because I didn’t practice enough of what I felt least comfortable doing.  Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

 

I’ll end with just saying that getting my pilots license was definitely the coolest achievement of my life.  It is something that I will have forever and will continue to bring me joy every time I get in the pilot’s seat or even see a plane overhead. If you are wondering who to do you training with, Inflight has my vote.