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Five Questions: Pete MunteanFive Questions: Pete Muntean

Born into flying

By day Pete Muntean is a reporter for WUSA Channel 9 in Washington, D.C. He’s also an adjunct lecturer at his alma mater, the University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill College of Journalism. But when he’s not in front of an audience, Muntean can be found in an airplane—flying with a student pilot, joining up with other pilots to grab a $100 hamburger, or simply out enjoying the sky.
Five Questions
Photography by Robb Hohmann

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).

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