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SPECIAL REPORT: Taking Flight - KOAM TV 7

SPECIAL REPORT: Taking Flight

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If you've ever thought about getting your pilot's license, be prepared to learn.

We met one flight instructor at the Joplin Regional Airport who says teaching someone how to fly is very self-fulfilling, but seeing how that person grows as an individual is even more gratifying.

"What would you say that it takes to be able to fly an airplane?" Tawnya Bach asked.

"You have to have self confidence, and you have to have the ability to learn, because when you become a pilot... You're flying an airplane. You're becoming Doug Heady the weather man. You're becoming the attorney, and you're also becoming some physicist, because you have to understand the aerodynamics that are involved in it, and we also have to have a mechanical understanding of the aircraft," Matt Zeimen, chief flight instructor at Mizzou Aviation, said.


Since 2006, Zeimen has put more than 3,800 flight hours under his wing. He now uses that experience to train other people to become pilots.

Zeimen helps teach some of the approximately 20 students currently taking lessons at Mizzou.


The day we met Zeimen, he took Bach for an introductory flight lesson.

Bach boarded a Piper Archer, a 180 horsepower single engine airplane. The Archer is one of many aircraft maintained and operated by Mizzou.

"I'll get it started and get us taxi'd out. After I get us taxi'd out, you can do the takeoff today," Zeimen told Bach.

"Sitting in the pilot's seat, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach," Bach said. "There was a lot of stuff happening on the instrument panel. I was hoping he wouldn't give me too much control."

"After we took off and climbed to about 3,000 feet, everything was very touchy. If I let up on the yoke, we would lose altitude," Bach said. "It was tough to see over the nose of the plane, and that lack of visibility bothered me."

"We're just slowly taking out our power, and we're just touching down," Zeimen said.

"When we landed, I wanted to go back up again. It was fun," Bach said. "Although learning to fly has a hefty price tag and takes time, it's something I'd really like to do someday."

"We just landed. How did I do?" Bach asked.

"You did incredible. For your first flight, it was amazing. You held altitude. You were able to look outside, acquire things outside the airplane. When I asked you to take us to the station, you took us right there. There was no hesitation. When I asked you to make a turn around the station around the big tower, you made a beautiful turn around a point and we came back," Zeimen said. "You seemed real comfortable in the airplane. I didn't see any legs jumping around, and nobody tried to jump out the door today, so that was a successful flight."


With his job, Zeimen gets to share aviation and teach someone how to fly, but more importantly Zeimen says, he gets to see students soar to new heights.

"I guess there's a sense of pride in watching a student go from day one to their first solo flight. What does that mean for you when you see them accomplish that?" Bach asked.

"To fly, you have to build a lot of self confidence in what you're doing. You really have to overcome a lot of different obstacles. The road to becoming a pilot is very bumpy. You're going to meet a bunch of adversity," Zeimen said. "This big personal growth, that's where I really see the pride is that I look at a person from the beginning and then the last day that they get their license or that they solo, to be able to see how they've grown personally and built up a self confidence, that's really, really gratifying. 

 

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