By Kate Krauser
Mike Martinez is not only the Director of Technology at Oak Hall, he is also a seasoned pilot. Because of his passion for flying, he was approached by Oak Hall senior Matthew Citty to start a club for flying. In this club, students go through grounds school, where they learn the technicalities on how to be a pilot and will eventually take the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) exam. “I’d say 80 percent to 90 percent of being a pilot is grounds school,” Citty explained.
After passing the exam, students have the opportunity take flight lessons at the Gainesville Regional Airport, which is not covered by the $50 club fee. The club fee covers the pilot’s handbook, a flight calculator, and a logbook. Flight Club is open to students at the Upper School, primarily juniors and seniors. There is an interview process to join due to limited availability, and only eight students are allowed to join the club due to time constraints. “We are limiting it due to the size of the instruction area, and the fact that each student requires sufficient simulator time,” Martinez noted.
Students will spend time on the flight simulator, which was donated by the Gleim family. The flight simulator is a machine designed to resemble the cockpit of an aircraft in order for the students to learn the parts and procedures, and even practice flying, in the safety of a classroom.
Martinez encourages students interested in piloting to join the club. “The club has a demanding 30-week curriculum that covers everything from the basics of aerodynamics, through engine and electrical systems, to airspace navigation,” Martinez said. The club of eight students will be split up into two groups of four. “We are probably going to split it evenly, so two people who already know how to fly go with two people who don’t know how to fly,” Citty explained. One group meets on Tuesdays, while the other group meets on Thursdays. “This club does not immediately put anybody in the left seat of a plane, but if you get into the left seat of a plane, you’ll be very prepared for it,” Citty added.