Getting closer to solo!

Yesterday was windy so my instructor, Tanner Quigley at Murfreesboro Aviation, explained the challenges associated with crosswinds on takeoffs and landings and calculating wind speeds to determine whether or not it is safe to fly. In the air, we performed 2 no-flap landings and slow flight to 9 kts.

I now have 9.3 hours in the C-152, and 12.3 total hours total when including DA40 time from MTSU’s aviation camp earlier this year. I will be ready to solo soon.

I’m scheduled for ground school on Friday and Monday, then will fly again on Thursday.  Tanner said next flight, we will work on instrument flying 🙂:

Back in the Air!

Yesterday, I was back in the air after a break. It felt great. The temperature was much cooler and it was a great day for flying at Murfreesboro Aviation.

Because it had been a few weeks since I had flown, my instructor, Tanner Quigley, spent time going back over the basics as a refresher, then we took to the air. We worked on steep turns, slow flight, power-off stall, point turns, and landings (5 in all).  Because the weather is changing,   we talked about the differences in aircraft performance in warm versus cold weather and the precautions I will need to take depending on weather conditions.

On Tuesday, I will return for ground school and then will be back in the air on December 6. I can’t wait!

1928 Ford Tri-Motor

It has been awhile since I last posted. I’ve had a very busy fall, but now that marching band season has come to a close, I will be back in the air with Tanner Quigley and Murfreesboro Aviation on Friday.

In other news, this weekend I had a chance to log time in a 1928 Ford Tri-Motor 5 AT-B, NC9645. It is an amazing aircraft. Thanks to EAA Chapter 419, Murfreesboro Aviation, and the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport for bringing her to town.

While at the airport, I met Allen Withers, who served in the Air Force as a Chaplin for 37 years.  He explained that he had lost his son at age 20 and after the Tri-Motor flight, he gave me his Challenge Coin.  I can’t express in words how much I appreciated his gift.  

SOLO!!! And Onward and Upward!

The time is here! I have soloed! What a feeling! I would like to thank everyone in the FMA and all the sponsors for making this possible! I would also like to thank the good people at Quality Aviation Services at Jack Barstow Airport, including JT and Janine Rairigh. Everyone has been extremely generous to me and I am very grateful!

The FMA and QAS should be aware and very proud of the financial burden they all have lifted off my shoulders. You guys made it possible for me to accomplish all that I want to accomplish short term, and making the future goals more attainable. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people my age to fund the education we need to get where we want to be, and still have even enough money to fill our gas tanks. Scholarships are almost a necessity these days… Even with a deadly amount of determination and non-stop hard work, I still find it hard to keep the funds suitable to get where I need to in the future, yet still live my life and accomplish my goals. After all, we all have 1 life on this earth and personally, I am definitely not wasting the first 25 years (might I add just under 1/3 of a LONG lifespan) doing nothing but school 😉 So in short, thank you, and I am so appreciative of everything the FMA, the sponsors, and QAS has done for me and do for others like me.

So now I guess the best thing I can say is onward and upward! The journey doesn’t stop here, in fact this is the end of the beginning! So, if you are wondering what is next, I think I feel safe predicting a future of hard work, busy schedules, and good times ahead, which is nothing new for me but that’s how I like it 🙂 Hope to see you all in the skies someday!

With incredible gratitude,

Aaron Smokovitz

(Above): The day I soloed and the huge chunk of shirt JT Rairigh (instructor) removed. Quite drafty wearing that shirt these days…

(Below): After topping off fuel, before I departed for my solo cross country.

I Flippin’ Flew SOLO!!!!

Well Ladies and gents, the day has come. I flew solo for the very first time on the 27th of September 2017. I am so proud of myself because this is something I never ever thought I would have the courage to do but here I am.

This is completely and utterly all thanks to FMA Solo Program and all of its sponsors! I couldn’t be more thankful for everybody involved in my journey to becoming a pilot.

The person I need to mention is my former band teacher Mr. Lewis. I’m not sure if you read these posts Mr. Lewis but regardless, I need to address the fact that you are the sole reason I knew of this scholarship and, therefore, a huge part of the reason I could pursue my dream. Thank you for believing in me and helping me obtain the scholarship. I will never forget all that you have done for me.

Now that my thank you’s are addressed, I’ll tell all about my first Solo!

To be completely honest, it wasn’t eventful at all. Nothing scary happened, nor was there a lot of traffic in the circuit but nonetheless it was exhilarating! The feeling of being free in the open blue sky, making your own decisions and being completely alone in your trusty plane is utterly fascinating to me.

To break it down, I first started off a normal flight with my instructor doing regular circuits one morning. We did about four or five when suddenly he orders a full stop. I was confused because we had only flown about a half hour. As we were taxiing back to the school he says “ready to Solo??” My. Heart. Stopped. I told him a shy “umm.. I dunno…” and he told me straight up “you’re ready. I don’t want to wait any longer.” about 10 minutes later I’m sitting at the runway 18 hold short line thinking to myself “what in blue blazes am I about to do?” I made the call to tower and was cleared for takeoff and soon enough I’m climbing through the sky laughing to myself. I didn’t stop smiling the entire time. I did one circuit, landed then taxied to the school. St. Andrews Tower congratulated me on my first solo and I felt even more happy!

So, there’s my story. my first ever solo. I have flown solo twice since then and I’m definitely more comfortable with it now. I will continue to blog my progress towards my license. Once again, thank you so much to all FMA members and every single sponsor, I am so grateful for everybody in support of myself and the other three scholarship winners!


**Videos were taken in calm wind conditions only when safe to do so**

College decision

I hope to be back in the air soon at Murfreesboro Aviation and I’ll report on my progress, but in the meantime, I have other news.  I have been accepted to and will be attending the University of Tennessee in the fall of 2018!  I will be majoring in aerospace engineering.  I also plan to audition for the Pride of the Southland Marching Band next semester.

Busy Month

With the start of school, the ACT test, marching band, and college applications, I have been grounded.  However, I will be back in the air at Murfreesboro Aviation in a few days, after the weather clears.

On the college front, and as of last night, I have been accepted to all 3 of the engineering schools to which I have applied!

I’ll post again as soon as I’m back in the air.

Congratulations, William, for being the first one of us to solo!

My First Few Lessons!

Hey everyone,

Thought I’d create a post to fill you all in on my first few lessons. I have been flying every morning for about 2 weeks now and I have come a long way since these lessons.

The first few lessons were definitely the most challenging. learning everything from stalls, spins, and spiral dives to climbing, descending, and endurance. A wide variety of topics with something new every flight!

My second lesson was an eventful one that’s for dang sure. There had been weather rolling in but our practice area is only a couple miles from the airport so we decided to fly for a bit anyway. we had a great lesson and we decided to head back before the weather caught us. well, had we left any later than we did, we definitely would have been in a pile of trouble. We safely landed but as we were taxiing to our apron, it started POURING rain and extremely high winds. We were very lucky to have touched down before then.

On my third flight my instructor started handing me the control of the radio calls to Ground and Tower as well as to the Practice Area Traffic. it was daunting at first but the guys in the tower are very accustomed to having new students on the radio so even if you mess up, it’s not the end of the world.

Speaking of the Air Traffic Controllers, my instructor, Dane, brought me up to the tower to meet the guys over the weekend. It is definitely nice to put faces to voices and to know who you’re talking to. The technology is astonishing up there!

So, currently, I am on my second day in the circuit. Practicing landings and take offs. I will post more in depth about my circuit experience so far in a separate blog post tomorrow. I need to get back to studying for my PSTAR exam!

Until then, safe skies and happy flying!!


Finally Flying!!

Hey everybody,

I am FINALLY flying!! So excited and very happy. I have delayed in posting for about a week because I have moved in and been coping with living by myself for the first time. I am currently living in a trailer style house with a couple other students right at my school! it’s so awesome o just be able to walk out my front door in the morning and head out for a flight.

Speaking of flights, my first one was on September 2nd and it went extremely well. I have flown almost every day since but over the course of a few days I will write separate posts about some of the lessons.

So, the first lesson went amazingly well. it was mostly familiarization with how things work at the school and how they get things done. My instructor is amazing, very patient and an extremely good teacher. The first day was really scary but I have been slowly making acquaintances.

To keep the semi-short, I will be sure to write another post tomorrow about my first couple lessons. Until then, Safe skies and happy flying!!

– Courtney Taylor