November 19, 2013
Matthew Cahn received Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Christmas gift one year. Knowing that the game had piqued his son’s interest in aviation, Matthew’s father arranged for him to go flying with a friend in November 2012.
Less than a year later, Matthew is the one doing the flying.
A freshman at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, Matthew, now 15, has about 14 hours logged in a Cessna 172 and plans to solo on or near his 16th birthday on Nov. 7, 2014. He hopes to follow that up a year later and earn his private pilot certificate.
His goal is to become a commercial pilot. “It would be cool to fly around the country and maybe the world,” he explains.
Matthew says that first flight to the Gulf Shores in November 2012 sealed his decision to learn to fly. “Just taking off, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Matthew started flight lessons at 14, although he hasn’t had as many lessons as he would like. “My parents and I agree that there is no point for me to fly every single weekend since I can’t solo until I turn 16.”
Still, he says his parents are supportive of his desire to fly. “They saw the number of hours I spend on Flight Simulator and they see this is what I want to do.”
When he’s not up in the air, Matthew is flying virtually through Flight Simulator or Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network, where he is a tower controller. VATSIM brings virtual pilots together with live air traffic controllers with real weather conditions. Since there is some time between his flying lessons, his instructor, Scott Lindsly, gives Matthew a list of things to do on the simulator with his yoke and throttle quadrant. “It is amazing how realistic it is,” he says. “It also helps to keep me motivated.”
So how much time does he spent flying on simulators? “Too much,” he says, laughing.
Since he video and audio records his flight lessons and then uploads them to YouTube, Matthew also reviews his lessons as he prepares for his next lesson. “But what I really enjoy is the people who message me and ask questions,” he says, noting he also likes to shares his pictures and journey to become a private pilot through Facebook.
Matthew says he mainly joined AOPA AV8RS, which he found out about on Facebook, to network with other youth; he most enjoys looking at the pictures of students’ flight successes on the AV8RS’ Facebook page. “It’s a great resource,” he says. “It’s helped me because it’s nice to know that there are other kids with the same interests.”
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