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Pilot at 44? Why?

Congratulations to Paul Praveen, who recently passed his private pilot check ride. This has been a dream of his for a long, long time. We were simply happy to have been a part of his dream, and his journey. Congratulations too, to his instructor, Joseph Tustin. Great job, Paul -- and Joe, too!

Paul wrote a wonderfully inspirational article on this journey, beginning as a youngster and culminating in his recent check ride. It appears below.

Pilot at 44 – Why?

You might ask me why I was so eager to become a Pilot at 44. The answer is simple – I was chasing my childhood dream. Now I as a Pilot I would like to share the story; my journey and the folks who helped me along the way.

Growing up in Kerala, in the village on the Southern tip of India, I could sometimes get a chance to see a plane so high it looks like a tiny white dot. That all changed when my father took a job in United Arab Emirates when I was five years old. I could not wait for him to come home for vacation; so that I could go ride in my family car to pick him up from the airport 150 miles away. There was a double purpose in doing that – not only to receive my Dad at the airport; but also to see the airplanes taking off and landing up close. I was always mesmerized by the sight and sound of a plane.

So my father quickly realized I was fond of airplanes (maybe I talked too much about the airplanes on the way back home); so during his next vacation he gifted me a 1 foot long battery powered Boeing Airplane model which made sounds, lit up, and rolled on the ground. Needless to say, that became my favorite toy. At that time if anyone asked me, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I would quickly tell them, “I am going to be a Pilot.” Fast forward to when I was reading a newspaper article at 14 years old which said that since pilot training was super expensive only super rich people could dream of it – especially since the only school available was located in Northern India. I very sadly I dropped the idea and my dream to become a Pilot and focused on studying Computer Science and completed my Engineering Degree. Then IBM hired me and wanted me to work in San Jose, CA.

In 2015 we took the Oath to become Citizens of United States of America, the country we now call home. You may not have thought about it; but US Citizenship comes with the great privilege of General Aviation. Ultimately, on my 40th Birthday I took my first introductory flight at KUKT. I started training there and due to distance switched to New Garden Flight Connections (NGFC) at N57. On August 24th 2018 I did my 1st solo in N9167C. After 2 years on July 2nd 2020 I passed my check ride in N80619 and officially became a Pilot!!! At KMIV, my FAA Examiner, Mr. David Burton was so methodical and helpful - even when I did not know what an “emergency descent” was. He not only showed me once and told me I had one chance, but I was able to do it successfully. Even though it was a long and hard day; I was rejoicing all the way, singing songs of joy when I was flying back to N57.

Please know that we truly live in a blessed nation – _The United States of America, one with such great privileges. Lot of great folks helped me achieve my childhood dream. I want to thank Mary Kelly who took good care of my flying schedules; Matthew Sloyer who was my first CFI all the way to Solo, then with Pete Jordon for some time. I learned a lot of flying techniques from Jon Martin and we became friends. Finally, my buddy Joseph Tustin CFI, who was there for me all the way from after my check ride till today. Court Dunn always encouraged me and made sure that NGFC was doing everything to help me achieve my dream. So, I take this moment to Thank You All!

Surely after COVID-19 is over we will celebrate! I will also become confident to take my wife up to show her the sunset one day soon!

-Paul Praveen

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