I had an opportunity to sit down with Ed Matthews, an experienced pilot with 46 years of flight behind him and many more to come.
Ed is the go-to guy around Hemet-Ryan Flight School. The frequent unquestioned response to many young pilots questions is "because Ed said." He has earned the reputation as a local authority on all things aviation, with a wealth of knowledge he is happy to share. One glance at his copy of the latest FAR/AIM speaks for itself...
When did the itch to fly begin for you?
Ever since I was a little boy. When I was 12 years old I started building model airplanes. As soon as I was old enough, just turning 15, my dad took me to the glider port in Pear Blossom, CA and I started flying.
"Watching an airplane take flight is second in satisfaction only to actually flying...the beauty of flight...it's just a cool thing."
I fly remote control models now. Trim an airplane perfectly, let it go and watch it fly.
Do you remember your first solo?....were you scared?
Sure, there are a lot of fears...the fear of crashing, the fear of making mistake and letting your instructor down, the fear landing off the field in the glider.
I love flying as much now as I did in the very beginning. It is always interesting and challenging. As an instructor there is always something new- different planes, different students, different destinations.
What is the most rewarding part about flying?
Teaching; seeing students grow. I enjoy the psychological aspect of helping them get them through their fears. It's very satisfying when my students get the hang of it and become aviators.
Making a good landing is always very rewarding. I've got pages and pages in my logbook of touch and goes.
What do you think about when you are up in the air?
There's the feeling of getting away from the normal stresses of everyday life. You get a different perspective up there. All the little things that are going on down on the ground, you seem to be separated from them...you are in a different world almost. You fly right over bumper to bumper traffic and you're glad you are not down there in that mess!
What's your favorite airplane to fly?
Well, they're all pretty darn good. Our Cessna 83E - as far as a great teaching airplane, it's hard to beat. She's easy to fly; enjoyable to fly.
Do you have a need for speed?
Nope. Speed is directly proportionate to the dollars. "No bucks, no Buck Rogers."
It's not lift that makes an airplane fly, it's money. Cruising along at 100mph is good enough for me.
What are some characteristics of good pilots?
Your success is largely based on your attitude. Things that don't mix well in aviation are having an ego and making excuses.
"Complacency is a pilot's biggest enemy."
You have to give 110% to be successful. You gotta slow down, prioritize, think of safety, and have a good attitude.
Advice to newbie pilots?
Challenge yourself and stay focused.
"Take the time to feel good about your accomplishments as they come."
We take it in phases. First study everything about the airplane. Understanding your airplane is so important. Study the manual. Focus on one thing at a time so it doesn't get overwhelming. Then your instructor will guide you to additional reading to venture into.
It's expensive these days, but if you can fly once a week or even once every two weeks, you will reach your goals. Don't worry about how long you think it will take, just keep plugging along and it will happen. It could take a year, it could take 5 years. Baby steps.
What is the first step for someone interested in aviation?
Come out to the airport. Express your interest, talk to instructors, talk to pilots, watch planes take off. Sign up for a Discovery Flight. It will give a feel and go from there.