Student works to obtain pilot’s license

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Student works to obtain pilot’s license

Zach Spatz poses by his plane.

Zach Spatz poses by his plane.

Photo courtesy of Mark Spatz. Used with permission.

Zach Spatz poses by his plane.

Photo courtesy of Mark Spatz. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy of Mark Spatz. Used with permission.

Zach Spatz poses by his plane.

Eda Sezer, Reporter

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Some may view flying from Wadsworth, Ohio, all the way to Barrow, Alaska as long and tiring. However, junior Zach Spatz flew to Alaska with his father while observing the Rocky Mountains from thousands of feet in the air and walked the beach in which the Barrow Whale Bone Arch lies and admired its presence this past summer.

Spatz has been working toward obtaining his private pilot’s license since the age of thirteen. He currently has his student’s certificate, which allows him to fly alone or with an instructor, but not any passengers. Spatz explained his interest in getting a pilot’s license early in life and what influenced him.

“I grew up around planes [since] my dad has always had a big interest in planes. . . . I think it’s cool [that] nobody else in the school really knows how to fly, [except] maybe one other person, and it’s just the most freeing thing ever. If you think driving is cool, flying is just incredible. [There are] no speed limits, [and] you don’t have to stay in the lines,” Spatz said.

Spatz tries to fly at least once a week depending on his schedule. He explained that his father, Mark Spatz, is the only one who instructs him in his training towards obtaining his pilot’s license.

As Spatz is training to get his pilot’s license, he explained that he must take a test with three parts that includes a written portion, an oral test, and a flying test. He is currently working on the written portion of the test. He did not go to a set class, or ground school, but instead he explained that his father explains things to him and acts as his instructor.

Spatz explained further qualifications a person needs in order to get their pilot’s license.

“You have to have . . . a total [of] twenty hours to get your license. I have far more than that; I think I have about two hundred hours but you have to have at least five hours solo and then fifteen [hours] instructional,” he said.

His father spoke about the way aviation training works and the age limits to different aspects of flying.

“You can start learning to fly at any age. You can take lessons from anybody [at] anytime you want. . . . [However], for airplanes with an engine, you have to be sixteen years old to fly it by yourself or with an instructor but you cannot take passengers. You have to be seventeen years old to get your private pilot’s license and when you get your private pilot’s license, it’s like getting your car driver’s license,” his father said.

Art McIntyre, a former commercial pilot, discussed some of the qualifications needed to receive both a private pilot’s license and a commercial pilot’s license.

“To be a private pilot you have to be able to [fly] solo in a plane and then pass a flight test and then pass a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) written test. . . . [When training to be a commercial pilot,] you have to have more hours of experience and [pass] a more sophisticated test. You also have to have a physical from a FAA certified physician,” McIntyre said.

Spatz and his father also own a plane themselves. The plane they own is called a Swift and while it belongs to his father, Spatz mentioned that he usually flies the plane more often than his father. They keep it at Wadsworth Airport, and their routine flights usually end up being within a ten mile radius of the airport.

His father talked about some of the responsibilities that come with owning a plane himself and compared it to owning a car, while also briefly explaining how airplanes age.

“It’s a lot like owning a car. Our plane is pretty old, but airplanes don’t age like cars. Our plane was actually built in 1946. . . . Every twelve months they have an annual inspection where the airplane gets completely opened up and all of the inspection panels come off and the engine gets checked. . . . Anything that doesn’t look right will either get fixed or overhauled or replaced,” his father said.

Spatz also listed some of the planes in which he has earned flying time other than his father’s Swift. These planes include a Cessna 150 and 152, a TBM 700, a Citation 1 and 2, and a Twin Comanche. He added that in the interior of an airplane, everything is very functional and that in his opinion, it is not as plain as a car’s interior.

This past summer, Spatz flew to Barrow, Alaska with his father at his side as a part of training for his license. He expounded on why they chose Alaska as a destination and their general daily routine on the trip.

“We were looking at interesting places to go . . . and flying through the Rockies just has always been something my dad has wanted to do and I had absolutely no problem doing that. . . . We normally stopped about once a day. We [would] wake up, take off, [and] fly for about five hours and then land,” he said.

Spatz illustrated his experience flying solo for the very first time. He explained that he thought it was one of the scariest experiences in his life. He also described a particular instance in which he experienced a mechanical error while in air.

“[During] one of my first solo flights . . . the landing gear wouldn’t come down. . . . I was on final approach and I got a warning light so I just pushed in the power . . . and I had to do a manual crank down on the landing gear,” he said.

Spatz mentioned his future goals include careers in aviation. He currently plans to join the United States Air Force for about twenty years and then corporate flying. His father commented on his son’s plans for the future.

“I think right now he really thinks flying is very cool. The only thing I would caution him against is that flying is not very intellectually challenging, so after you learn how to push all those buttons and move all those levers, it gets to be the same old thing over and over again. So . . . if he does decide to go into flying, [I would recommend him to] have something else in his back pocket” his father said.

As he continues to carry out his passion for aviation, Zach Spatz will take passengers along with him on flights after getting his license and provide his passengers with a new experience. He is pursuing a unique task for himself and could experience some exciting but risky times in the air while also seeing many interesting things along the way, all which will shape his future.

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Student works to obtain pilot’s license