How did you get started in aviation? I’m incredibly lucky. I was born into a flying family. My late mother [Nancy Lynn] was an aerobatic flight instructor. My late father [Scott Muntean] was a salesman who used an airplane to travel... then ultimately became an airplane salesman. They taught me most of what I know, even through their failures. When I was 5 years old, my father was seriously hurt in a plane crash and lost an eye. My mother was killed flying an airshow when I was a teen, orphaning me [Scott had died of a brain tumor in 2000]. I wasn’t left with much. A love of flying—and the friends I’ve gained through it—is the greatest gift they could ever give.
What is your favorite aircraft? The Super Decathlon is sweet. It’s a pure airplane in the old, romantic traditions—a tube and fabric taildragger without gyros or screens. It’s a great teacher when it comes to spins and basic aerobatics—maneuvers every pilot should try with a knowledgeable instructor at least once. It could save your life. Lately I’ve been flying the Decathlon in regional aerobatic competitions. It’s more challenging to fly well over a Pitts or an Extra, and that’s part of the fun.
What was your most challenging flight? Flying is always challenging— that’s why I love it. Cross-country in day VFR-only airplanes can be tricky. Sometimes the greatest challenge is knowing when to call it a day. I have never regretted landing and waiting out weather.
Do you have a favorite aviation-related activity? The only thing I love more than flying is talking about flying. My happiest times are having a beer with friends at Oshkosh or Sun ’n Fun. That’s like family, but better. Instagram and Facebook have made those connections stronger, year-round. I’m also really lucky in that I occasionally get to report on aviation. I think one of the best things we can do as pilots is to demystify general aviation to non-fliers.
What advice do you have for student pilots? I remind my students not to be too hard on themselves and to really embrace the joy of flying. I think aviation is a never-ending journey and you don’t know where it’s going to take you. So, don’t dwell on that last landing by being too critical. I try to smile as I’m taxiing out. You fly better when you’re happy. Relax and look outside. Flying is beautiful.
Connect with Pete Muntean via Instagram (@petemuntean) or Facebook (@PeteMunteanTV).