By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Elijah Lora sat in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit, waiting for take-off.
“I wanted to do a sharp turn and some other neat things,” Elijah said, grinning.
Only the freshman at Bethany Christian Schools would have to be content with doing just the basic flight maneuvers instructed by the flight instructor.
Elijah took part in a two-week Private Pilot Ground School class along with sophomore Neel Bhagat and freshman Alex Reinhardt at Bethany Christian School.
The students were able to sit in the pilot’s seat with instructors from New Horizons Aviation at Goshen Municipal Airport.
“I didn’t feel nervous and wasn’t scared. It was windy, though,” Elijah said. “I wanted to do it all.”
Alex said he was anxious at first and then gained more confidence after take-off.
“It was better with the instructor and he got us through the checks and talking on the radio,” Alex said.
Sitting in the pilot’s seat wasn’t a new experience for Neel after having a couple hours of flight time through a 4-H aerospace program in the past, he said.
“I felt that experience again so I was pretty confident,” Neel said. “It’s really interesting.”
The students learned about wind speed, weather patterns, physics of flight control, airplane structure and what to do in emergency situations like a stall in midair.
“It was helpful to know what to do and the instructor did a planned stall,” Elijah said.
The freshman said he’d asked the instructor if they could do a stall during his flight.
During the two weeks, the group went on field trips to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Waco Classic Aircraft Corp. in Battle Creek, Mich.
“I liked going to the Air Zoo,” Alex said. “I visited once before with my dad but it was for fun. I was able to go into more depth with what I learned this time.”
Calvin Swartzendruber, a teacher at the school and a certified ground instructor for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has taught the class for three years at Bethany.
The annual two-week J-Term allows high school students to take one course that meets all day and provides courses that wouldn’t do in a regular classroom setting, Swartzendruber added.
“The students are graded and get academic credit towards their GPA,” he said.
And the students agreed the tests for the pilot ground school weren’t easy.
Alex just nodded his head and said he got a passing grade.
“It was a good feeling to know if we could pass this mock FAA exam, we could pass the real exam,” Neel said. “It wasn’t easy. It was quite difficult since 70 percent was passing.”
The class provided the teens with career possibilities in their future.
Neel said he’d like to maybe be a pilot.
And if Alex didn’t become a pilot, he’d like to own a plane to fly.
“It’d be a hobby for me,” Elijah said.