Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Logan Riley: Teen earns wings before high school graduation

PERRY TWP. It wasn’t model airplanes, action movies or video games that attracted a young Logan Riley to aviation. He caught the flying bug a bit later in life, as a sophomore at Perry High School.

Riley said an aerospace-engineering course at school that taught him about aviation history, science and mathematics helped to steer him toward the friendly skies.

“I had Lego planes as a kid, but really, it was school (that piqued my interest),” he said. “I was not really into planes until my sophomore or junior year. That’s when I decided I’d work on getting a pilot’s license.”

On May 23 — just days before graduating from high school — Riley, 19, earned a set of wings via a private pilot’s license, which is a major step in proceeding closer to his overall target of garnering a commercial license. The best part about flying, he said, is sharing a ride with family members and friends.

“I like flying other people and letting them have a new experience,” said Riley, who’s slated to attend Bowling Green State University this fall, where he plans to become an aviation and flight technology major.

Attaining his private flying license wasn’t a cinch, Riley said, adding that he would attend flight school courses after regular high school hours and on weekends. He also squeezed in a few lessons last year between his summer job as a counselor at the Akron Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs.

“It’s easy to fly, but hard to become a pilot,” said Riley, who mainly flies a Cessna 150 out of Akron Fulton International Airport.

Hours of studying, written and oral exams, flight training and tests, course work and flight simulations were all part of flight education requirements, Riley said. The most time-consuming and intense exercise was the oral test, he said, which consisted of four to five hours of questioning by an instructor on any topic related to aviation.

“I’d get asked, ‘What documents are needed to be air (ready),’” Riley recalled, adding that the answer to the query is an aircraft worthiness report, registration, certificates, an operations handbook, etc.

Riley began taking courses at American Winds College of Aeronautics last November and concluded in May. Denise Hobart, chief flight instructor at the school, said he was an eager, enthusiastic and capable student.

“Logan is one of those kids who makes you love your job,” Hobart said Tuesday, noting that although teen pilots are not rare, the accomplishment of earning a license is no small task. “It’s nice to see young kids with ambition set goals and achieve them. He was very detailed and dedicated.”

Hobart said a private pilot shares the same airspace as a major commercial airliner. It’s common for a small aircraft, such as one Riley would be piloting, to land at Akron-Canton Airport right before or after a Southwest Airlines plane.

“You have to be as serious and aware as any other pilot,” she said. “Logan was one of those students who got everything quick.”

Earning his wings

Income earned from the Akron Rotary Camp helped to pay for flight school, which cost about $8,000 over approximately six months of classes, Riley said. Overall, he paid for about three-fourths of his schooling tab.

“Managing time with my (high school) work was probably the toughest part,” he said about earning his pilot’s license. “I was gone or studying all the time.”

Riley is in his second summer of counseling at the camp. He job includes feeding and bathing special-needs campers, in addition to assisting them with activities, such as board games and athletics.

In the future, Riley wants to wind his love of flying into helping people and eventually form a foundation to provide flights to special-needs children.

“I want to fly kids who have special needs for fun, or give them a lift to a hospital if they need clinical help,” he said. “It would be a good way to help people.”

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