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De Pere Pilot Gets A Lift Out of Teaching People to Fly

At Sherwood Williams' 50th birthday party, the guest of honor was reminiscing about how he wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force and remarked that he someday wanted to learn to fly. A friend suggested that there was no time like the present; and Williams took the lesson to heart, leaving his own party for his first flying lesson. Since then, Williams—who retired from education in 1998-has opened his own aviation business and teaches other people to fly. His goal is to teach people to be safe, relaxed, and have fun while flying, using an integrated system of both lessons on the ground and then the same lesson in the air for better learning retention. Classes include lessons on aerodynamics, airplane systems, weather, cloud clearance, rules and regulations, communications, and radio languages.  Emergency procedures are practiced on the ground and in the air until they become routine; and after 110 hours of instruction, Williams decides if a student is ready for a solo flight.  Some students learn just for fun, others become instructors, and other become corporate or airline pilots. Williams says the best part of the job is flying, while the worst is if someone has a hard time learning or if an instructor has a hard time teaching. For anyone who wants to become a pilot, Williams recommends a discovery flight—which includes a walkthrough of the pre-flight check list, how to taxi a plane on the runway, and how to add power and steer. Williams guides guests through the take-off, flight, and landing. Flying requires confidence, focus, and a strong stomach. "You'll know within 10 seconds if you love it or hate it," says Williams.

December 21, 2008

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