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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

WCC’s Ground School Takes Off

Wouldn’t you love to fly? Imagine yourself in the cockpit, the sky around you and the controls at your command. Whether you dream of finding your career in the sky or of flying for your own pleasure, the starting point is the same: ground school.

Now WCC, in conjunction with Ann Arbor’s Solo Aviation, offers students the opportunity to take the first step toward a private pilot’s license through the College’s Lifelong Learning department. A 14-week ground school class begins in January on the main WCC campus.

“Ground school provides a good overall introduction to the fundamentals of flying,” said flight instructor Theresa Whiting, who will teach the class. “And for students who are undecided if they want a pilot’s license, it’s the best way to determine if it’s right for them.” While many students complete ground school before moving on to flight instruction, the two can be taken concurrently.

The class meets once a week and includes topics such as meteorology, aerodynamics, airplane mechanical systems, medical and physiological factors in flight, and cross-country flight planning. “We cover everything that’s included in the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] exam for a pilot’s license,” said Whiting. “Students can expect to study each week for a quiz on the material.”

But it’s not all serious. “I know some good pilot jokes and I like to tell them,” she said. “The class is a lot of fun.”

Located at the Ann Arbor Airport, Solo Aviation has been in business since 1985 and is one of the largest independent flight schools in Michigan. Whiting estimates that about 60 percent of the students in flight school earn their private pilot’s license as the first step toward a career in aviation, while the other 40 percent intend to fly just for pleasure. “It can be a long career road,” she said. “But pilots like to say the view out the cockpit window is better than the view out the cubicle window.

“There are many more options for pilots these days than flying large passenger jets,” she added. “Regional services, cargo and charter services, aerial photography, wildlife surveying, and flight instructing are a few of them.”

Whiting earned a degree in aviation from Western Michigan University and intended to pilot jets for a living until she discovered that she truly enjoyed teaching others to fly.

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