Jack Cross, Wings Field Airport (KLOM), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Flight time: 45 hours
Aircraft flown: Diamond
Goal: Wants to become an engineer and design airplanes
Extracurricular activities: Part of the model aviation and ski and snowboard clubs at North Penn High School
The deal: Parents will help pay for flight training if he keeps his grades up in school.
As a single, stay-at-home mom, Elizabeth Gehman felt like she needed something to help get her involved in the community, and keep her brain stimulated.
She isn’t interested in pursuing Japanese, even though she studied the language at the American University in Washington, D.C. Nor is she interested in staying in her career with the world’s largest general scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Instead, Gehman made the choice to become a pilot. She said to herself five years ago, “Let’s follow that dream I’ve always had and see where that takes me.”
It started as a child when Gehman’s parents worked for the Kennedy Space Center. She was inspired by stories told when astronauts and pilots were invited over for dinner. “I even have Super 8mm films of us standing at launches,” she says.
Gehman, who lives in Lansdale—a borough in Montgomery County, northwest of Philadelphia—trades babysitting with friends in order to make time for flying. “There’s no place on Earth where you have such freedom,” she says. “It’s the thrill of knowing you’re the only one responsible for the experience.”
She earned her private pilot certificate in July 2005 and will continue to pursue her commercial and CFI certificates. Her plan is to flight instruct with Ace Pilot at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Although she has to put flying on hold this summer to take care of her children—Esther, 5; Quinton, 10; and Patrick, 13—Gehman looks forward to staying involved as an AOPA Project Pilot Mentor.
“The mentoring program has shown me I love working with people,” she said. Since 2003, she has been mentoring Jack Cross, her friend’s son, who flies just for fun and is working on his cross-countries.
“I talk to her about things like flight planning, airspace, and what frequencies to use,” says Cross, 17. There to provide more focus, Gehman enjoys studying with Cross.
“I love to see that light flash when somebody gets it,” she says. “You learn more as you teach and it helps you understand better.”
Cross says he is inspired by Gehman’s stories about her flying experiences.
“I think that’s one of the biggest benefits of having a pilot as a mentor,” says Gehman. “To be able to go to a pilot who’s been there and has a different way of looking at it. I would’ve loved to have somebody there for me.”