Tyler Belasco says the work day looks pretty good from a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. He thought it would.
“I remember someone in high school saying when it comes to picking a career, try to find something you would do for free and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” said the 2009 BHS graduate. “I always liked flying so I thought I’d give it a shot.”
Belasco works as a flight instructor for RSA Flight Training in Morgantown.
“There are a bunch of things I like about it,” he said. “First of all, I get paid to fly an airplane – and that’s pretty cool. Another thing is I like seeing somebody else enjoy it as much as I do.”
Belasco’s students are of various ages and they have various motives for taking to the skies.
“We have a pretty even mix of those flying for their career and for pleasure,” he said. “Some guys just really like to fly and want to be able to take their families to the beach a lot faster than driving. Some of the younger guys I teach actually want to pursue it as a career. We have some students as young as 15 years old and then there are guys in their 60s.”
Regardless of who his student is, Belasco’s job is the same.
“It’s about keeping them motivated and keeping them comfortable,” he said. “The turbulence and everything can all be unnerving. As long as you stay comfortable, they have no reason to worry.”
To acquire his or her license, a prospective pilot must complete 10 hours of cross-country time, three hours of night flight time and complete a solo flight which consists of a take-off and landing.
“It’s a traffic pattern. You make a big loop around the airport,” he said. “It’s really exciting.”
On a daily basis, Belasco and his students fly to various spots.
“Cross-country is anything longer than 15 nautical miles so for that we typically do Cumberland, Md., Parkersburg or Zanesville, Ohio,” he said. “All of those are really good cross-country flights.”
He flies in either a Cessna 172 or a 182.
“Basically, the difference is the amount of horsepower and the size,” he said. “The 182 is a little bigger and more complex.”
He also flies for pleasure.
“Some of the cooler places I’ve been are to Tulsa, Oklahoma and Indianapolis, Indiana. I’ve also flown to Attenborough, New Jersey just across the river from New York City,” he said. “One thing my dad and me do every year is fly to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend the largest air show in the U.S. and second largest in the world.”
It was his dad, Tom, who introduced him to flying and with whom he frequented the skies growing up.
“I was really blessed,” he said. “My dad is a pilot and ever since I was a baby, I can remember riding in an airplane with him.”
So by age 16, he was behind the controls, soaring the skies as an after-school activity.
“It was scary the first couple of times. Some of the maneuvers made me real nervous and I wasn’t sure I could do it,” he said. “My instructor pushed me and forced me to be comfortable with things. I got to the point that it didn’t bother me anymore.”
Belasco got his pilot’s license when he was 18 years old. After graduating from BHS, he went on to attend Fairmont State University and in 2013 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aviation and administration.
“I spent that summer in Florida getting my flight instructors’ certificate,” he said. “Become a flight instructor is really difficult. The standards are a lot tighter as far as ability to fly. Not only do you have to possess a commercial pilots’ license, but you have to memorize what they call fundamentals.”
Belasco compared those fundamentals to the Praxis tests required by teachers, encompassing theory and skill.
“To teach, you have to know everything about the airplane; what it does and why,” he said. “You have to be able to explain anything on the airplane how it all works – any component of the engine, control surfaces and how all the instrumentation works. You have to be able to explain it all.”
To earn his certificate, Belasco had to pass two written tests, an eight-hour oral examination and a flight portion which took two hours to complete.
“It was all pretty mentally draining,” he said.
Belasco taught flight instruction at Fairmont State before going to RSA.
“It’s been working pretty well for me,” he said. “I’ve been there for about a year and a half – coming up on two years.”
Belasco recently passed his dad in flight hours.
“You log in your hours of flight time,” he said. “Dad has close to 1,000 hours and I’m right at about 1,100 hours right now.”
No matter how much he flies, Belasco will always remember his first solo flight. It was right here in Bridgeport.
“I was very excited,” he said. “It’s really a neat feeling.”
- Source: http://www.connect-bridgeport.com