Let's Go Flying!

Ground school in a war zone

February 1, 2010

It’s been said that physical peril has a way of focusing the mind—and if that’s so, then Capt. Gabriel Glinsky’s U.S. Marines should make excellent students.

Glinsky, a V-22 Osprey pilot currently deployed in Afghanistan, is teaching a private pilot ground school to a class of about 15 fellow marines. The students, mostly enlisted U.S. Marines, are preparing for the FAA knowledge tests while they’re still in the war zone. That way, they’ll be prepared to start flying intensively once they return to the United States with a goal of obtaining civilian sport pilot and private pilot certificates.

Glinsky is a certificated flight instructor and volunteered to teach the ground school when it became apparent that more than a dozen members of his squadron wanted to learn to become pilots. Glinsky, a longtime AOPA member, asked his association to assist him with course materials, and AOPA happily started gathering them.

Aviation humorist and veteran instructor Rod Machado was the first to pitch in with 15 copies of his Private Pilot Handbook. Gleim Publications provided several Sport Pilot Kits that include books covering the FAA knowledge test, flight maneuvers, and a training syllabus. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation provided a 2010 FAR/AIM for every student, and AOPA staff members gave a variety of materials including plotters, flight computers, sectionals, and flash cards.

“Ground school’s never easy, especially when you’re being shot at,” Machado quipped. “I admire their commitment and am pleased to help.”

Irvin Gleim said his company would come through for the deployed Marines and fill in any gaps in their training materials. “Whatever you need, we’ll provide,” he said.

Craig Fuller, AOPA president and CEO, wrote a personal note to Glinsky and thanked him for his “service to the United States, his fellow Marines, and general aviation.”

“The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is very pleased to support your efforts to train future aviators and extremely impressed at your commitment to do so far from home, and in such austere conditions,” Fuller said.

The Marines were careful to specify that they need printed course material—not online instruction—because they lack the required Internet connections. Glinsky plans to keep AOPA posted on the progress his students are making in Afghanistan and when they return home.

“The amount of support that we have received is way more than anything that we could have hoped for,” he said. “We will do our best to keep GA strong, even halfway around the world.”

What can you do? Make the first step by visiting the Let’s Go Flying Web site—and share it, and your love of flying, with a friend or two.