Seniors Brendan Sise, Mike Fischer, and Jack Reedy spend a lot of time together on the ice skating for the RedHawks. But, thanks to Jack’s dad Marty, a captain with American Airlines for more than 30 years, these standout hockey players also discovered a shared interest in aviation.
“My deeply rooted passion for aviation stems from early childhood,” explained the young Reedy. “Growing up my father took me to a variety of different aviation events and airshows. I quickly caught his passion – leading me to pursue a career as an aviator.”
The students have been taking flight lessons from Captain Reedy, a certified flight instructor, at Lewis University Airport in Romeoville since last summer in an effort to earn their pilot licenses. According to Reedy, who founded a not-for-profit flying club called the RedHawk Flyers, training involves a great deal of discipline and dedication.
“Although the training is intense, these guys can handle it. As student-athletes, they know what it takes to be successful,” Reedy explained. “I provide some ground school instruction and we brief all maneuvers before each flight lesson and debrief post flight.”
The actual flight lessons are approximately 90 minutes. Maneuvers include basic straight and level flight, climbs, descents, turns, steep turns, ground reference maneuvers, stalls, takeoff and landings, cross country flying, and more. The boys also are enrolled in the Sporty’s Pilot self-study ground school course.
“My interest in science and technology inspired me to pursue a future in aviation,” said Sise. “I believe flying is an area of great discipline and a fun way to challenge myself.”
In order to earn a private pilot license, each student must pass a comprehensive written exam, oral exam, and practical test with a Federal Aviation Administration pilot examiner. The boys will have flown approximately 70 hours by the time they complete their training, hopefully, by the middle of the summer.
“It’s a great time to become a pilot as the number of current pilots who will be retiring in the next several years is at 60 percent,” Reedy said. “There will be a large turnover to young pilots.”
That’s good news for Fischer, who started building and flying remote controlled aircraft as a young child. “To me, the hobby served as a challenging yet extremely rewarding introduction to aviation,” he said. “It quickly inspired me to pursue aviation as a career.”