Sunday, January 01, 2017

Amelia Earhart Airport (K59), Atchison County, Kansas

Muriel, the sister plane to one flown by Amelia Earhart, now has a sibling at Atchison, Kansas' airport.

Amelia Earhart Airport soon will begin offering flying lessons in its recently purchased Piper Warrior II, reviving a service that’s been absent from the airport for two decades.

Bethany Root, the airport’s fixed base operator, has kept busy recently organizing training sessions, searching for a flight instructor and a plane in which aspiring pilots can take to the sky. With a plane secured, Root expects to begin offering ground training in February.

Learning to fly, Root said, takes confidence, determination and self-motivation, but it is not as intimidating as it might sound.

“You’d be surprised,” she said. “All of a sudden, it clicks, and you’re ready to go.”

The plane to be used for flight training is a clean, single-engine Piper Warrior II. It has four seats, can fly at a speed of 130 mph and has a range of about 500 miles. It is currently available to rent, but the Piper’s primary purpose will be to serve as a training plane for newbie flyers.

It’s a service that hasn't been offered at the airport since the 1990s, according to Root. As FBO for Amelia Earhart Airport, Root’s goal and her job, she said, is to make the airport a destination and hotbed for aviation activity. A big, first step in that direction is embodied by the Piper.

The search for a certified flight instructor is ongoing, but ground training classes are set to commence in February. At ground training, novice and experienced pilots alike will gather at the airport for courses on practical flying topics, including one on flight controls.

The general focus of ground training will be on earning a private pilot’s license. One of the best ways to learn to fly is to hear from experienced pilots, Root said.

Those interested should watch for a schedule of classes to be posted online through the city of Atchison and Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce websites and Facebook pages.

Root said there already is a list of people waiting to get started.

Some might choose to learn to fly for recreation, but Root also stressed the “huge demand” to fill jobs in aviation. Flight schools are packed right now, she said, and highlighted the cost advantage of earning a private pilot’s license in Atchison, totaling around $6,500.


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