[A former Marine and a Parkland Aviation student, Jeremy Russow takes to the air and fulfills a goal he set for himself.]
There are so many things we want to accomplish in our lifetimes, yet it seems as though many things are just too far outside of our reach.
I remember taking a family vacation to Florida as a young child and that first experience flying. I was glued to the window as we taxied and prepared for takeoff. I remember the feeling as the plane accelerated, pressing me back into my seat, and I watched people, cars, and buildings begin to shrink as we climbed higher into the sky. This moment sparked an interest in aviation.
My mom still has a paper I wrote in discussing my dreams for the future. My third-grade teacher had asked us to answer two questions: “If you could be one age and stay like that forever, what would it be, and why?” To this day, I don’t recall if I chose the age of 28 for a reason or arbitrarily, but I landed on that number because at that age I would be a pilot and could fly my family and friends all around the world.
So here I am today at 28 and, although I have yet to find the fountain of youth, I am finally making good on that goal from years past.
I find it exciting to be a part of this family at the Parkland College Institute of Aviation. Day One was all about getting to know your fellow students and staff. Of course there is paperwork to be done (would you expect anything less when it comes to the government?), but the staff makes the process very streamlined. Ground school classes are put together in a way that goes hand in hand with your lessons in the air for that week, so this definitely helps to reinforce the material as you learn it from book to practical application. The instructors and staff create a professional and fun learning environment, whether in the classroom or in the cockpit.
My first flight with Mandy (my flight instructor) was a bit surreal. We walked through the process of how to pre-flight the plane, from documents to weather to inspecting the aircraft. She took gradual steps to acclimate me to the entire process, and before you knew it, we were making our way to the runway and into the air. Even on the first flight, I got to start operating the controls. It was an awesome experience I will not soon forget.
After several months of flight and ground school, it was time for me to do my first solo. Mandy kinda sprung it on me one afternoon while practicing touch and go’s at the airport. After we landed the last time and taxied to the ramp, she asked if I wanted to solo. I was caught off guard at the thought, but extremely excited about it at the same time. We went inside, prepared my log book, and went over any questions I had before sending me off to continue practicing touch and go’s in the pattern around the airport. As I began to taxi on my own, it really hit me, “This is all on me now.” Caught between nerves and excitement I successfully landed the Piper Archer nine times on my own before having to head to my ground school class. The feeling would be best described as that first time at 16 when you take the car out on your own after getting your license. No one is there to help you if you mess up, and it is an absolute feeling of freedom, although now I am traveling in the air rather than on four wheels.
I encourage anyone who has a passion to fly and who may be looking for a place to learn, to put some serious thought into enrolling at the Parkland College Institute of Aviation. They have a professional, caring, and fun staff that will meet your needs as a student pilot. I come from a military background having served six years on active duty in the Marine Corps. There is a military veteran community there among the staff and alumni as well.
If you are a fellow service member, Parkland College can help you use your GI benefits to make your dream of flying a reality. I know growing up I could never afford the cost of flight training, but this way, whether a veteran or not, I can budget the program through the college, and they can guide me with all of the information I need. I am nearing completion of my first semester here with Parkland, and I’m looking forward to completing my first milestone, a private pilot’s license, come spring/summer 2015.