time, money, nor age stopped us! ... People like you and I... some remain
relatively unanimous, and others became celebrities you may know...
If we are able to make it, you can make it
How and why I became an airplane pilot
How and why I became a helicopter pilot?
From one of
our own members at The TPA...
Torres: "Why I enjoy flying!"
I realized early in
life that we only get to live once. I was enamored of science fiction and
adventure shows like Supercar: ?It travels in space and under the sea.
It?s the marvel of the age.? WOW! I dreamed of excitement. What was it
like to see other countries or venture into outer space? I was told by
sad-faced women: ?little girls don?t do those things? and ?dreams don?t come
true.? Why would I do something that didn't make me happy?
I wanted to be an astronaut so
I joined Civil Air Patrol (CAP) as a teenager. Women weren't allowed to be
astronauts yet. CAP was the only place to learn about human space
exploration, which was less than 10 years old at that point. I learned how
to fly an airplane before I learned to drive a car. My flight instructor got
me a ride in a Breezy. When I had a steady job, I earned my pilot?s license
at Princeton Airport. It was always amazing to look down at the wheels and
know that I was responsible for getting them off the ground. Sometimes I
took photographs of the fascinating view from above.
I sent in my astronaut
application the first year women were allowed to apply. I didn't make it but
I went with friends to Florida to see the 1st space shuttle flight in 1981.
I drove to Florida in 1983 to witness Sally Ride's first space shuttle
flight. Then a few months later I met her when I began working at
NASA-Johnson Space Center in support of the space shuttle program. My office
was just 2 floors below the astronauts' offices.
I have found opportunities to
enjoy flight in its various forms. Before Goodyear left Houston, I was able
to get 30 minutes of flight in their blimp. The last time I flew I took a
few aerobatics lessons. It was challenging to learn the maneuvers that put
the aircraft in precarious positions. I took a few hang gliding lessons in
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. I never flew very high but even 2 inches above
the ground gave me the feeling of being Superwoman. It was incredibly
awesome! My younger sister arranged for a hot air balloon ride in Arizona
and we alsotried
indoor skydiving. Thanks to The Collings
Foundation this year  I flew in a B-24 bomber so I could
experience a small sense of my father's experience as a
radio operator during World War II. I felt so
alive as I videoed the propellers slicing the air above land and water.
I am researching my family history. I found many explorers
who shared my surname. At least 3 were on Columbus' voyages and a narrow
body of water between Australia and New Guinea is named after another. I
recently found documentation that my father crossed the Torres Strait during
WWII. Exploration is my heritage. Instead of water, flying is my current
realm but I am hopeful that I will have the chance to soar into space!
And more to come! ...
Lifelong dream of
flying inspires UT business major to take to the sky
Max Tribolet walks around the plane, completing tasks on a tedious list that
includes testing the lights and switches in the cockpit, checking the
weather and making sure the air space is clear. After finishing this,
Tribolet insists that what comes after is actually the simple part ? lining
up the plane on the runway, getting up to a speed of 55 to 60 mph and taking
To receive his piloting license when he was 16, business freshman Tribolet
had to find a flight school, fly at least 40 hours in a plane and pass
written, practical and medical tests. The written test is 60 questions and
tests the student?s knowledge of weather and flying, whereas the practical
test requires that the student actually go up in a plane with an examiner to
prove he or she has an overall knowledge of how to fly. To pass the medical
test, pilots are required to undergo an examination from an Aviation Medical
Though Tribolet had ambitions of flying since he was a child, no one in his
family had ever taken an interest in piloting a plane before.
?Ever since I was a little kid I always wanted to fly, and the urge just
never left me,? he said.
The first few times that Tribolet was actually flying the plane, though, he
was scared. It was only after being in the air regularly and realizing that
flying planes was actually safer than driving cars that he began to relax.
?You have a lot of freedom,? he said. ?You can go in three directions since
you can go up or down. It?s not like driving a car; there?s a lot more
Although there?s much more freedom in the air, there are a few restrictions
that come with a new piloting license. Because of a lack of experience,
Tribolet can?t fly in clouds and is limited to single-engine planes.
However, he can fly day or night and can fly with passengers.
Tribolet believes that, on a nice day, it?s not hard to fly, but when there
are strong winds it can be difficult. Landing with a crosswind, for example,
is demanding. This requires the pilot to alter his or her landing course and
land directly into the wind. However, adapting to wind patterns is all
covered in training.
?My mom was nervous [about me flying] at first, but since she?s gotten to go
up, she?s seen it?s safe,? he said. ?I try to be conservative [when it comes
The danger of flying is misrepresented, and what many don?t realize is that
risk of injury or death is 10 to 40 times greater in an automobile than in
an aircraft, he said.
?It?s really different. The amount of people that have pilot licenses is so
small, especially kids,? Tribolet said. ?I got my first student pilot
license three days after I turned 16, so I was actually flying a plane the
same day I got my driver?s license.?
So instead of driving to his favorite restaurant, he now flies when he has
the time and treats his family and friends to his favorite burger place
after a scenic flight to Brenham, about 30 minutes outside of Houston. On
Sunday, Tribolet took his friend Eli Arbov, a biology sophomore, up in the
air to give him a taste of what piloting a plane is all about.
?I?ve always been infatuated with the idea of flying,? Arbov said.
?[Tribolet] asked me to go with him because he knew I wanted to get my
pilot?s license also and wanted to show me the ropes.?
Despite all of the benefits of becoming a pilot, Tribolet says he doesn?t
actually want to fly for a living because of the lack of job security in the
airline industry. But he still wants to maintain the hobby.
?I don?t like the long security lines or the public airports,? Tribolet
said. ?It?s just something I do for fun ... I love the feeling of having
everything right at my fingertips. I get this huge adrenaline rush from it.?
Harrison Ford's interest in flying started long before he became
the pilot of the Millennium Falcon. In the 1960s, he took classes at the Wild
Rose Airport in Wisconsin, but the now super-rich movie star couldn't swing $15
an hour for lessons and had to put his passion for aviation on hold.
Fast-forward almost 50 years, and Han Solo not only has flown solo in both
airplanes and helicopters, but he's also soared with some pretty lofty
achievements. He was Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young
Eagles program for five years. He's rescued lost hikers near his Jackson,
Wyoming, ranch. He was honored at the 6th Annual Living Legends of Aviation
Awards. And to top it all off, he's even survived a copter crash!
Always a trendsetter, Clint Eastwood has been a licensed pilot
for more than 30 years. He told Ellen DeGeneres in a TV interview that flying
helicopters is his favorite hobby because, "You're the only one up there." In a
1997 "60 Minutes" interview, he took Steve Kroft up in his helicopter and flew
him over the golf course he was building in Monterey, California. He told Steve
that he loves flying because pilots are identified only by the code on the
aircraft. "You're just a number in the sky. Everybody pretty much leaves you
alone. Charlie Xray or 71Romeo Papa. Every plane is just an ID." Seems like
Clint needs some alone time.
John Travolta is surely more public about his love of flying than
any other celebrity. He's often photographed with one of his five planes, and
his collection includes a Boeing 707 commercial craft (bearing the Qantas logo
because the actor is a goodwill ambassador for the airline). He takes his love
of aviation one step further by bringing it home each night. His residence has a
1.4-mile landing strip ending at the main entrance. A "carport" right out front
houses his smaller plane for quick jaunts. The mid-century dwelling, shaped like
the top of an air control tower, seems a little more like an airport than a
humble abode, with its 15-by-17-foot dining-room mural of an airport scene from
a 1937 "Fortune" magazine ad and its 18-foot wall-to-wall living-room windows
overlooking the tarmac and fleet of planes. We're not sure how many cars fit in
the actual garage, but we're pretty sure that John and Kelly don't use those
Instead of wasting away in Margaritaville in 1986, Jimmy Buffet got his pilot's
license and has been flying seaplanes ever since. Currently, he owns a Dassault
Falcon 900ex jet, but he used to have a different plane. In 1996, Buffett took
Bono and his family for a ride on his craft, "Hemisphere Dancer." But the
Jamaican police mistook the group for drug smugglers and opened fire on them!
The bullet holes on the side of the fuselage caused Jimmy to retire the plane
(now on display in Orlando) and the scary experience inspired him to write a
song about the tale. "Jamaica Mistaica" was the result.
Tom Cruise got his private pilot's license in 1994, and flying is a skill he
began to acquire while playing Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the Navy fighter
weapons school film "Top Gun." While in real life, Cruise would've been too
small to qualify to be a Navy pilot (at 5' 7" he's one inch too short), he has
bought several military aircraft. Most recently, he purchased a World War II
P-51 Mustang fighter plane and had "Kiss Me, Kate" written on the side. He told
People magazine that as a kid he carried a picture of a P-51 around with him.
Guess dreams really do come true. The Cruises have four planes now that they
allegedly use like family minivans, shuttling kids around the world, going on
monthly shopping sprees, and popping in on the latest fashion shows. It's been
said that Tom's even used the jet to pick up groceries, a rumor he hasn't
The story goes that Morgan Freeman had wanted to fly a plane since he was a kid
and would sit in English class daydreaming about piloting a fighter jet.
Although he joined the Air Force as a mechanic, he didn't learn to fly until he
was 65 years old. Aside from a brief run-in with the FAA in 2004 (his license
was suspended for 45 days for breaking altitude rules), he's been flying for
seven years and owns two planes: a twin-engine Cessna 414 and a Cessna Citation
501 SP jet. Freeman has said that one aviation item on his "Bucket List" is to
fly a Sino Swearingen SJ30 business jet.
Angelina Jolie got her pilot's license in 2005. She learned to fly after her
exposure to refugees in Asia and Africa, during the filming of Tomb Raider. Her
goal was to prepare herself for involvement in refugee and philanthropic work
via aviation. She learned to fly in a a C-172 and now owns and flies a
SR22 plane she bought. For a bit of humor: I read that after Angelina flew her
first solo she refused to have her shirt tail cut off, because she was wearing a
designer shirt. (For those who do not know, FYI: The time-honored practice of
cutting off a student pilot?s shirt tail after the ?first solo?, when they fly
without an instructor for the first time, dates to the tandem trainers of old...
there were no intercoms in the Stearmans and Jennys of the old days, so the
instructor sat in the back to watch the student and pull on their shirt tail to
signal them to go left or right, etc. So after the student solos, the shirt tail
was no longer needed!)
Before he was a country superstar and hit songwriter, Kris
Kristofferson was a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. He moved to Nashville in the
mid-'60s to break into the music business. To support himself in the lean years
he had several odd jobs, from sweeping the floors at Columbia Studios, to
piloting a helicopter for a Louisiana petroleum firm. Cash was not impressed
with Kris' first set of demo tapes, but he got the Man in Black's attention when
he landed his chopper in Johnny's backyard to deliver a second one. This meeting
led Cash to record Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Kris left his
flying job soon after.
Dennis Quaid was born in Houston, Texas, the son of an electrician. He studied
drama in high school and in college, but dropped out before completing his
studies, moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career. His brother, Randy Quaid, had
already began to build a successful career, but Dennis initially had trouble
finding work. He began to gain notice when he appeared in Breaking Away (1979)
and earned strong reviews for his role in The Right Stuff (1983). Aside from
acting, Quaid is also a musician, and plays with his band, the Sharks. He is a
licensed private pilot with single and multiengine instrument ratings. He also
has a type rating for the Cessna Citation 500 series twin engine light jet. He
regularly flies the jet to his property in Montana.
Hilary Swank learned to fly while filming "Amelia," this year's biopic about the
famous female aviator lost at sea while attempting to circumnavigate the globe.
But the Oscar winner stopped shy of getting her license because the studio's
insurance policy would not allow her to take her solo flight under their watch.
She has said she intends to follow through and get certified now that the film
is done, but for the time being she can only go up accompanied by an instructor.
Hilary took her newfound skill (and her teacher) on Oprah and helped a viewer
overcome her fear of flying by taking her on a private ride.
Some of the scenes in this video will give the viewer a
better idea of how fast 560mph (900kph or 490kts) is when you are looking at a
commercial passenger aircraft flying from the vintage point of a near by plane
vs. from the earth's surface below at 36000ft (11,000m)!
Please send us your stories and videos (or
links to them if they are hosted elsewhere), and share with us why you fly or love flying?!