Saturday, 11 July 2020 18:05

VIDEO: Deane earns private pilot license ahead of aviation school

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Cole Deane shakes hands with examiner Greg Hudson after earning his private pilot license on Thursday. Cole Deane shakes hands with examiner Greg Hudson after earning his private pilot license on Thursday.

ROCKINGHAM — Cole Deane added three little letters next to his name on Thursday, three letters that hold a lot of weight for the soon-to-be college freshman.

Just after daybreak, Deane climbed into a Piper Warrior single-engine aircraft and rumbled down the runway at Richmond County Airport. Several hours later, he was back on the ground in Rockingham and was certified with his private pilot license (PPL).

There to greet him were his parents Bennett and Heather Deane, his girlfriend Madison Jordan, and other friends and family.

The milestone in the young pilot’s career comes six months after beginning an internship program at the Richmond County Airport with instructor Jason Gainey. Deane was one of several Richmond Senior High School students participating in the internship, but became the first to finish the course.

Thursday saw Deane, 18, complete the second and third parts of the PPL test, having already passed the written test earlier this spring, which he called “the hardest” of the three. The final two stages were an oral examine, followed by a flight exam.

Deane left Richmond County with Gainey and flew to Asheboro to conduct the oral and flight exams with designated pilot examiner Greg Hudson, who was a former captain with United Airlines.

“I was nervous about taking my final two tests, and the hardest part was just trying to get over my nerves,” Deane explained. “Mr. Gainey talked to me like I was just one of the guys and he eased the tension and made it better for me. 

“Mr. Hudson was also really cool about the whole thing,” he added. “He made it a comfortable experience on the other two parts of the test.”

Once in Asheboro, Deane sat down in a conference room with Hudson and completed the oral exam in about an hour. Deane noted much of the focus was proving his understanding and competency of being able to explain the functions of an airplane, how to maneuver in airspace, as well as rules, regulations and the weather.

Noting the oral exam “went really well,” the next step was to hop in a plane with Hudson and perform a series of moves and flight procedures in the air.

“There were a lot of different things we did,” Deane explained. “I had to successfully complete a short-field takeoff and landing, a soft-field takeoff and landing, and of course a normal takeoff and landing. 

“Ahead of time, I had to make a flight plan to fly to Shelby, and I followed it for a while until Mr. Hudson approved it and took me off course,” he added. “Some of the other things I did were power-on and power-off stalls and recoveries, steep turns to the left and right, and an engine failure simulation where I had to locate a safe place to land in the area.”

That safe place was a nearby road that was under construction and he simulated for Hudson what he would do in that situation. 

One of the more difficult aspects of the flight exam was when Deane had to put on a pair of foggles, eyewear that blocks out everything but the instrument panel. While wearing them, Deane had to fly to different headings and altitudes and do a 180-degree turn, all while staying within 100 feet of his assigned point.

“I didn’t know if I had passed because when we landed, Mr. Hudson just said to taxi to the parking lot,” Deane laughed. “He hadn’t said anything to me and I was worried I didn’t pass.

“But Mr. Hudson said I hadn’t done anything bad, which is what a pilot examiner’s job is,” he continued. “The way he let me know I passed was by telling me I was ‘as sharp as a show dog’.”

In four weeks, Deane will head to college and enroll in the aviation program at Middle Georgia State University in Eastman, Ga. Aspiring to become a commercial airline pilot, Deane having already earned his PPL puts him one giant step ahead of many of his future classmates.

“It’s going to put me a big step ahead because most kids will come in with no experience,” Deane said. “Earning your PPL is the first thing you do in the aviation program, and now I’ll be able to go in and get right into my instrument flight rules (IFR) training.”

Last December, Deane was one of a handful of students to sit in a career day seminar with Alan Sowell, a 1981 Richmond graduate and a current captain for United Airlines. That session, along with the help from Richmond’s CTE career development coordinator Jason Perakis, got Deane interested in the program.

Also helping Deane throughout the internship were Bob Deen and Rich Smith, both of whom offered classroom instruction for the internship at Richmond County Airport.

“Mr. Deen, Mr. Smith, Mr. Gainey and Mr. Perakis all helped me a lot,” Deane said. “I couldn’t have done it without them. Also, my parents and my girlfriend were very supportive during the whole process.

“Mr. Sowell was also a big influence because his presentation really got me thinking about pursuing a career as a commercial pilot.”

Between now and the time he leaves for school, Deane is searching the market for his own aircraft he can use to fly back and forth between North Carolina and Georgia.

VIDEO: Joining Deane on one of his first solo flights over Richmond County was sports editor Kyle Pillar. Watch the video of their take-off and landing, as well as flying over Richmond Senior High School. Click to watch.

Last modified on Saturday, 11 July 2020 18:31

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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