Hello East Hill Flying Club!
It may come as a surprise to receive this message from an old member of the club. It’s been more than 11 years since I set foot on the premises of the club for the last time, yet I cannot forget the good times I had while I was there.
For me it all started out as a Discovery Flight on a Cessna 152, N68148 with Francisco Garzón, an EHFC Flight Instructor during a cold afternoon of February 1999. Needless to say, I got hooked right away! My childhood dream of flying an aircraft had finally become true…
It took a few months to make the one decision that would change the course of my life: getting a pilot’s license! Although I was working on a degree in Biology at Cornell, it was clear in my mind that this is what I was meant for. I joined EHFC and got the didactic material in order to start studying for my PPL. My first instruction flight was at the very beginning of the summer 1999 on June 21st to be exact.
From that point on, I was able to learn from many including, “Paco” Garzón, John “Stick” Stickle, David St. George and a few more. Stalls, Steep Turns, Crosswind Landings at Courtland Airport and many more maneuvers were all part of the menu in order to be able to master the art of flying an aircraft. With its ups and downs, I was able to log about 30 hours of flight time at the EHFC before I had to go back home in Ecuador later on where I decided to turn what started out as a hobby into my future career: being an airline pilot.
With only 320 hours TT, I was given the chance in 2006 to fly a Dash8-Q200 as a First Officer for Icaro, an airline associated with the flight school where I continued my flight training in Ecuador. Two years later, I was given the opportunity to fly for LAN Ecuador, part of LAN Group, which recently became LATAM Group (an alliance between LAN and Brasil’s TAM, now the biggest, the most successful and most promising airline group in Latin America.) From January 2009 until January 2011, I flew as a First Officer on the A318 and the A320 flying local routes (we have quite a few complicated airports in Ecuador, some of which are known worldwide for being exactly that) as well as international routes to Chile and Argentina. Ever since then, I’ve been flying a B767-300ER also as a First Officer in routes from Ecuador to Miami, FL as well as JFK’s Airport and Madrid in Spain.
About two months ago, while flying from GYE to JFK, we were rerouted due to weather conditions over NYC. Our new route took us from Miami to Atlanta, then abeam Cincinnati, over Cleveland and then from Jamestown towards Wilkes-Barre for a LENDY 6 Arrival to JFK. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to see KITH about 60 Nautical Miles north from where I was on J70 airway cruising at Mach 0.82 and FL370. My heart pounded for about 2 minutes while I enjoyed the view and for those few moments, many fond memories crossed my mind.
I have made a promise to myself that I will someday return to Ithaca to say hello and thank those whom I gave a hard time teaching me the basics of flying 😉
I would like to send a personal message to those student pilots who dream of flying commercial jets someday and tell them that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. Learn from those amazing instructors you have EHFC, those few who dedicate most of their time and energy teaching others who long to be up in the sky. Anyone can do it and even though EHFC may not be one of those huge flight schools, they always have exceptional people working there who want nothing but to share the dream of flying and teach you how to do it right.
See you soon!