What It's Like Becoming a Pilot: An Interview With Elliot Knapp
Here at Aviation Oil Outlet, we have a special interview for you. We have decided to interview Elliot Knapp, a sophomore at Purdue University. In this interview, he discusses what steps he is taking to make this dream a reality and how his passion for flying has impacted his college decision as well as career choice. Elliot also discusses his current flying experiences and answers some questions about what life in the sky is like.
When did your interest in aviation start?
My interest in aviation has been present since I was a child. I have always enjoyed watching planes at airports and visiting aviation museums with older and historic planes. I took my first plane ride when I was two years old with my family to Savannah, Georgia. I can vaguely remember being fascinated with the planes when I was staring out the window.
When did you start flying?
When I was 11 years old, my parents read an advertisement in the newspaper depicting an opportunity for flying lessons at a local airport. Since I always had an interest, I decided to try it out. My first flight where I was in control of the airplane was June 24th, 2011.
What type of license do you currently have, and what steps were required to obtain it?
I am an instrument-rated commercial pilot. To get to this point, I had to first obtain my private pilot’s license. This involved a series of dual flights with a single instructor and solo flights on my own. When learning how to become a private pilot, I had very little knowledge of the aircraft and the knowledge that came with it. A lot of studying and practice brought me to earning the license in February of 2017. This past November I earned my instrument-rating, allowing me to fly in unfavorable weather conditions, such as low clouds or fog. In December, I earned my commercial pilot’s license, allowing me to fly for compensation or hire. I have around 250 hours of flight time currently, a mixture of dual and solo flying.
What is your favorite plane you have ever flown or flown in, and what makes it your favorite?
My favorite plane that I’ve ever flown on is the Boeing 747 on KLM Airlines. While the leg room was limited and the plane was aged, it was such a wonderful experience flying on the “Queen of the Skies.” This plane has made such an impact on aviation, and it was thrilling to get the opportunity to fly on such a plane.
What is your favorite part of flying?
My favorite part of flying is the feeling of freedom. There is no traffic in the air, no braking for anyone, and no red lights. While air traffic does exist, there is never a point where it makes you come to a complete stop for a long period of time. You continue to move and fly no matter the situation. It relieves the stress of driving on congested roads and highways.
Do you ever get scared while you’re up in the air?
Being scared is a feeling that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It is a natural feeling; therefore, it is easy for a pilot to feel scared sometimes. While this feeling may be present in my mind, it is important that it does not show in my actions. Part of being a successful pilot is remaining calm in stressful situations. A good pilot takes that scared feeling and acts upon it. They do not wait for the problem to happen, they approach it head on and mitigate it as soon as possible.
Has your interest in flying inspired a career path or even a college decision?
My career in flying has inspired me to pursue it as actual career. I have never wanted to be something other than an airline pilot. After consideration of the many aviation schools in America, I chose to attend Purdue University to major in professional flight technology, on track to become an airline pilot someday.
What are some skills that would be helpful/required for a pilot to have?
A pilot must be extremely well-rounded to be successful in the real world. As with most careers, teamworking skills are essential. A pilot must be able to work with his/her co-pilot successfully for the safety of flight. Pilots must also be vigilant. Speaking from experience, many odd things happen when flying, some coming when its least expected. Constantly being aware of your surroundings is a vital factor for pilot and passenger safety.
What are your future goals as a pilot?
My end goal is to fly internationally for a major US airline, American, United or Delta. As to which airline I end up with, I have an equal interest in all of them. As long as I am traveling the world, I will be a happy man.
After the interview, we have learned that becoming a pilot is not an easy task. It requires lots of time, hard work, and devotion. It also requires lots of education and training. Elliot has demonstrated all of these attributes and has many hours of flight experience. We at Aviation Oil Outlet would like to thank Elliot for his participation in this interview and helping us provide our customers with a real life look into what flight is like.