Student Pilots

18 December 2012 - BJ Finney - Private Pilot

BJ Finney

Congratulations to BJ Finney on passing his Private Pilot checkride on 18 December 2012. Well done, BJ!

26 August 2010 - Geoffrey Dyke - Private Pilot

Geoffrey Dyke achieved his Private Pilot license on August 26, 2010. His instructor was Dennis Mathis. Geoff is an Australian Air Force officer working as a liaison officer with the USAF at Greenville. He attended the Major Flying Club (MFC) ground school in 2008 and began his flight training shortly after. He accumulated 70 hours of solo and dual time using the GLEIM syllabus.

I have wanted to fly since leaving school but the cost was (and still is) prohibitive in Australia. My deployment to the USA provided a great opportunity to achieve a dream noting that my wife does not work in the USA and could provide great top cover for the children's requirements. This freed my schedule to allow time for flight training.

The MFC Ground School was the impetus to begin flight training. Although I have a long history in aircraft maintenance and engineering, the ground school dusted off cobwebs on general information and taught me a lot of additional information required for flight training. This course was a god send in preparation for the FAA written test. Please follow the wise instructors' advice and complete the FAA exam ASAP after ground school.

Another piece of wise advice from Dennis Mathis and Mike Montefusco (my ground school instructors) was to join AOPA. This is also a high recommendation for potential pilots or for those interested in the aviation industry in general. I use AOPA's resources every week (online) for reference info, flight planning, weather, etc and enjoy the monthly magazines.

Some of the issues I had to address with my flight training was scheduling all required resources. This includes availability of: myself, the aircraft (maintenance and other pilots), my instructor and suitable weather. Between this lot, my training took 24 months and required me to back-track on training severals times due to extended periods of inactivity. This of course ends up costing me more money.....

My personal challenges in flight training (were and still are) communication on the radios and the dreaded "HOOD" for instrument training. I was planning to burn the thing after I passed my final pilot examination, but Dennis held me back and hid it form me. Dennis may also have his own view on my piloting challenges but he is no longer my instructor so I don't have to listen [ I will due to his vast experience and knowledge, but it is good to say I don't have to ;-) ] Early on in training, it was difficult (for me) to take on all the tasks for landing simultaneously, but Dennis was patient and slowly added tasks as he felt I was ready. Multi-tasking is definitely not my strong point! It is definitely a good idea to get into a regular process of setting up the same way every time and ensuring you have a steady approach speed for landing.

The parts of training I enjoyed most were:

Cross country work. It is fun to visit new places, and the night cross country was the first time all the planning and practice really pays off. I can hear Dennis now smirking as he intentionally tried to get me geographically confused to allow me to learn proper lost procedures and resources.
Definitely the first solo. Got to cross off a bucket list task with that one.
Shared time in the cockpit with the discussions, training, shared experiences and occasional disagreements.
Landings. Always a challenge and a great thrill when you get to really nail one. Dennis can always find areas where you can improve, and he always did. However there were a couple of landings I am still proud of.

Now that I am legal, I am looking forward to taking my family, friends and anyone else up flying so I can share the wonderful experience of aviation in light aircraft. My real training has just begun and I will hopefully stay aware of my limitations and in-experience. I hope to catch up with all you fellow pilots now that I can share experiences, jokes, a few beers, and a laugh. If you hear a funny Aussie accent on the radio say G'Day.

2009 - Jeff Nelson - Private Pilot

I AM AN ADDICT
By: Jeff Nelson

THE HABIT BEGINS
I blame Mike Montefusco. He introduced me to this demon that is taking all my money and most of my time. I've tried to shake it and am considering counseling but am not sure it will work. No money for it anyway since I am using every penny to support my habit. My habit? Flying of course!

It started innocently enough. Mike was in for a little dental work and mentioned that he flew from time to time. Liar, liar pants on fire! (He flies ALL the time). He asked if I ever thought about learning to fly. Trying to be nice, I said sure but never had the time or money. He said he was flying to Lufkin in a few weeks for pancakes. Would I like to come? Sure, I said. A few weeks later we met at the airport and off to Lufkin we went. Fun, fun, and more fun. He mentioned a ground school class he and his other dealer were putting on in March. I don't have the time I said. You don't have to fly right now he said, just a couple hundred dollars and a couple hours a week to see if you like it. O.K. I said. Looking back I can see him casting the line out into the water with the shiny, tasty bait right in front of this poor innocent fish.

So I go to ground school class number one and find it interesting. Mike's twitching the lure now, tempting me to bite it. Second class, oh boy it is tempting, but I really don't have the time. Third class comes, and I have actually opened the books before class and have become pretty curious. Mike and Dennis (the dealers run in packs!) are really into the fire and brimstone like television evangelists, and I walk the aisle, write the check, take the bait or whatever you want to call it. I can feel the hook being set and am ready to get on with the show. Anybody can do it, why not me? I really hit the books over the next three weeks and faithfully show up to class - easy peasy. After a month I tell Dennis I'm ready to take the FAA test. He looks at me like I'm crazy. (He keeps this look and maintains it all the way through my training. I believe it is the look of terror, and it is justified!) I take the test a week later and pass. Flying is going to be a snap. Ground school is over about a month later, and the real fun begins.

FIRST FLIGHT WITH THE GREAT SATAN
Dennis says show up at the club, and we'll take the Archer for a spin. I'm thinking no problem - twenty minutes tops, and I'll be ready for my check ride. Well, twenty minutes later I'm trying to figure out where to get into the plane and whether I really have to do an annual inspection every time I fly. After talking to FSS for the first time I am sure I am a moron but wanted to let everybody in Fort Worth to know that I was as well.

Finally we're in the air, and things are going well. Dennis gets us up to altitude, and I now have the airplane. Super-duper. After a few minutes of silence I hear a short message (from God?) emanating from the headset. "We seem to be losing altitude at an alarming rate." This may be harder than I anticipated.

SOLO REALLY MEANS YOU'RE BY YOURSELF
Fast forward to October. I've flown once or twice a week and am still pretty pitiful. Got so frustrated that I almost quit. Weather delays, vacation for everybody, new engine in the Archer and other gaps in the schedule don't help my progress. I learn that I am certainly not a multi-tasker. In short, I am just pitiful. Slowest student ever to come along. Dennis says I'm doing fine but is glad that dentistry was my chosen profession.

One day in October he gets out of the plane and says, "land three times." I say, "No problem - as soon as you get back in the plane!" He arc welds the door shut. I immediately forget everything I have learned. I pray to Jesus, pee my pants, do my checks and take off. I land three times. Crash landings are not a new concept for me anymore. We put more nitrogen in the landing struts and fly two days later. The Archer is one tough airplane. Glad the wheel skirts were off before the flight.

CROSS COUNTRY MEANS THE CONTROLLERS CAN BE CROSS
We finally get to go someplace! If I wanted to live over Lake Tawakoni I would have bought a houseboat there! My first solo cross country went off fairly smoothly except for two notable exceptions. I got a little confused at Gregg County when the cross controller wanted me to take a right base for another runway when I was already cleared to land on a different runway. I locked up like a bad wheel bearing, flew straight ahead, cleared the runway to the right, and had to call him back and beg for mercy. He vectored me back and I landed safely, but he was not really that cheerful about my learning experience. I did escape a trip to the tower, however. When I took off he said something about getting out of Dodge even though I told him I was going to Texarkana. They need to pay more attention. The only other problem I had was a curt reminder from FW Center that I would never reach GVT from Texarkana unless I maintained a westerly heading. Simple enough. Oklahoma can be a nice place to visit in early February... the Red River... but I digress.

Dennis and I take a couple of trips. We also make Ardmore, Meacham, Aero Country, Mineola Weisner, Wood County, Meacham again, Commerce, Caddo Mills, and any other place that Dennis needs to go to pick up parts or get the airplane serviced. There is a method to his madness. I have saved the Flying Club thousands of dollars in expense learning to fly from here to there. Dennis is a smart boy. I also gained about fifty pounds eating at every great airport restaurant in each of those places. I am quite good at checking weight and balance now.

ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR CHECK RIDE?
With everything else out the way, my prep for the dreaded check ride began. A few months had passed since I did any serious flying. Annual for the archer, weather, weather, weather, and more weather. Rust was hanging off everywhere, and it showed. I picked up the pace and started flying solo every other day and with Dennis once a week. I was improving, and my landings were getting better. Not good, but better. Finally in late June I took my pre-checkride ride with Harry. It went O.K. He looked a little worse for the wear after the lesson, but I made it through. Work on this, that and the other said Harry. Really, a very good experience. I learned a bunch in one hour. I could tell he was rooting for me to do well, and he was very helpful. More training with Dennis, and I was ready for the big day. Met Harry at the terminal and got the paperwork out of the way. We went flying, and I made it through the ride. I don't think I flew particularly well that day, but Harry was great and helped me through the process. I was so nervous I could have bent cast iron between my butt cheeks. Harry knew it too.

At the end of the morning I had that piece of white paper that said PILOT! Hallelujah! Some graduate summa cum laude, some magna cum laude, and some thank you laude. I was the latter!

THE END OF THE BEGINNING
Aviation has opened a new world for me. Since my check ride six weeks ago, I have flown with my wife to see my son in College Station, been to Ardmore twice with my youngest son and father-in-law, been to Stephenville to eat at the Hard Eight BBQ with Mike Montefusco, and have flown several times just for fun over Lake Tawakoni. Flying allows me to spend time with my friends and family both in the plane and where they live. I have a son in school in College Station, a daughter starting school in Waco, a brother in Houston and friends all over the state. I now have the ability to visit them for dinner and be back home in a couple of hours and have a blast doing it.

Flying has made my life richer, fuller, and more complete. Challenging to learn? You bet! One of the hardest things that I have done. Frustrating at times? Absolutely! The best things in life usually are. Expensive? Depends on how you look at it. We always spend our time and our money on the things we value. We trade our time at work for money, then trade our money for things we value. If you value your teeth you seek out the best to take care of them. I sought out the best flying instructors because I value my life and those in my care. Can I put a price on my experience? No way! It has added so much value to my life and a lot of enjoyment as well.

END OF THE LINE?
Nope. I'm studying for my IFR rating right now and am flying as much as time and money permit. Why? Because I am still learning - I suppose I always will be! I have flown enough now to identify my own screwups and errors. I still talk to Dennis and Mike and several other pilots after I fly to figure out how to correct my mistakes. We learn then we teach. I am so grateful that a few folks out there love to fly enough to spend their time teaching a brain dead dentist to shift from down in the mouth to up in the air! Thank you, Dennis and Mike, for opening up a whole new world to me.

17 December 2007 - Dale Crumpton - Instrument Rating

Dale Crumpton, one of our Associate members, achieved his Instrument rating in his Cessna T210 on 12/17/07. Dale began flying in 2000 and at the time he got his instrument rating had accumulated over 500 hours of flying time. For his Instrument ground school instruction, Dale studied under the direction of Dennis Mathis and Harry Andonian.

Dale took his successful Instrument check ride with Harry Andonian. Harry is one of our instructors, a Club Board member, and an FAA Designated Examiner.

Dale has wanted this rating for a very long time and finally was able to make his dreams come true. The most challenging part of the instrument course of instruction was "changing my VFR habits, making sure to hold altitude and heading -- can't fudge with it on IFR." "The most fun part of the course was was learning to fly under the hood,then getting to do the approaches." "What I most look forward to doing now that I have my instrument rating, is to be able to come back from Pagosa Springs Co. and land at Greenville even if it has a 1000 ft ceiling, not having to go back to Gainsville to land."

"I would like to thank Dennis Mathis for putting up with me and my schedule. I was out of town a lot but he stuck with me and we got it done."

"The Majors Flying Club has a lot of very good members and I would like to thank them for letting me be an Associate member and look forward to using the PC trainer to stay sharp on my IFR flying. Thanks to all of you." - Dale

15 August 2007 - Mike Zimmerman - Private Pilot

Mike Zimmerman achieved his Private Pilot license on August 15, 2007. His instructor was Dennis Mathis.

Mike began flying on May 31, 2006 and at the time he got his license had accumulated 50.4 hours of solo and dual time. For his ground school instruction, Mike studied numerous books he found lying around the flying club. He also found no shortage of club members willing to share their knowledge and experiences with him. Of course, when he got off track, Dennis was there to pull him back in. The most challenging part of the course of instruction was communicating effectively on the radios. With Dennis's patient help, he was able to get through it with minimal drama. The most fun part of the training for Mike was the recovery from unusual attitudes. Dennis suffered several panic attacks and possible spine injury from his experiences training Mike, but Dennis persevered to successfully coach Mike to reach his dream of becoming a pilot.

What Mike most looks forward to doing, now that he has his license, is flying.

17 May 2007 - Joseph Bennett - Private Pilot

Joseph Bennett achieved his Private Pilot license on May 17, 2007. His instructor was Dennis Mathis.

Joseph began flying on June 27, 2006 and at the time he got his license had accumulated 42 hours of solo and dual time. For his ground school, Joseph used the Gleim Online and Study Materials. Joseph has wanted to fly all his life and was able to make his dreams come true. "When my family got back from Africa with World Relief, I signed up to learn how to fly."

The most challenging part of the course of instruction was "getting my flying "legs" under me and not wanting to get sick in the beginning. The rudder/aileron practice was the killer. Also, remembering the written material later on in the course when I was completing the practical was sometimes challenging."

"The most fun part of the course was "the view." It opened up a whole new world in the sky. It was no longer a two dimensional perspective -- it was now a three dimensional one. The stalls and the steep turns were very exciting too."

"Being a part of the flying club was very enjoyable with it's trips, fly-in's in and get-togethers. The members treated me as an equal and constantly encouraged me."

What Joseph most looks forward to doing, now that he has his license, is taking his family on cross-country trips! "I also love the opportunity to take friends up and show them the perspective from the sky."

"The planes at the MFC are "second to none." I looked at various flying schools and found that the costs, condition of the planes, and level of Instructors (at the Majors Flying Club) was "head and shoulder's" above the rest. This flying club is professional, very reasonable in cost, and takes great pride in general aviation and producing and promoting safe, qualified pilots!!"

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