Leopard Look: Isaac Vinson

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Courtesy of Isaac Vinson

Isaac Vinson is learning to become a pilot at Monarch Air. Vinson flies a Cessna 172 over Mckinney, Lake Lavon, The Star and Mesquite.

Senior Isaac Vinson is training to become a pilot at Monarch Air in Addison, TX. He flies a Cessna 172 over Mckinney, Lake Lavon, The Star and Mesquite. Vinson tries to fly two to three times after school and once on the weekend, depending on the weather; his training sessions usually last an hour to an hour and a half.

At a Glance:

Favorite pre-flight snack: Jimmy John’s

Favorite plane: Dreamliner

Favorite place you’ve flown over: Texas Motor Speedway

Looking Deeper:

The Red Ledger: Why did you decide you wanted to be a pilot? 

Isaac Vinson: I was looking for something to do whenever I grew up, and I was exploring a bunch of different options. Then a friend of mine was a flight instructor. He was like, ‘Yo, take you up and go fly around a couple times,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, I want to do this.’ That’s basically how I started.

TRL: What do you have to do to become a pilot?

IC: I’m in the middle of it. I’m halfway there, so, basically, you gotta start at a flight school. You have to go through a bunch of different challenges. You got to take off, landing and all that stuff. You have to go through all of those steps to get in.

TRL: Did you have to fill out any paperwork for Monarch Air? 

IC: There’s a lot of paperwork, unfortunately. I start off with this basic signing whenever you start to fly the plane that you’re not going to try and crash the plane or anything like that. Then you have to do a physical which is just kind of like a school physical but less. Then you have to go to some government website and sign in, basically registering that, ‘hey I’m trying to do this right now.’ Every time you go out and fly, you have to put it on their website, being like, ‘hey, we flew for this long, worked on this and the flight instructor did all this.’ 

TRL: What are some of the difficulties of learning how to fly?

IC: I want to say everything. I went into it expecting, like a car. You got your pedals, right. You have screens, and it turns out that the steering wheel doesn’t work on the ground [and] the two pedals do something completely different. The screens tell you a bunch of different information that you’d never expect. We have to get the weather every time we go out to fly. The Terminal Service telling us what the wind is and all that. It’s just in numbers. That’s how you’re supposed to get the wind, where it’s from [and] how high the clouds are. Surprisingly, the radio is [difficult] like everybody thinks, ‘oh, you talk back and forth.’ When it’s really busy, it’s really hard to talk to them. 

TRL: What’s the kind of scenery you get from the sky?

IC: It’s very cool to see because we have this image of what all around us looks like. Then whenever you go from the sky, it’s completely different in every way. We see a mile down the road. It’s like, ‘okay, that’s a mile down the road’ in a plane that’s also completely different. It’s very good scenery, but it’s very different to look at.

TRL: Do you start off in a simulator before you move onto the plane?

IC: Surprisingly, not. It’s you and your flight instructor, so they control the plane and then as you work on stuff, though the first time they take off, land [and] all the complicated stuff. The next time they’ll let you taxi, and then the next time they’ll let you go into take off and help you do that. It’s cool because they can be putting some stuff on the controls, and you can control the pedals while they can control the yoke. They do most of it and let you see it, and it just slowly transfers over.

TRL: Do you plan on being a pilot in the future? 

IC: Long story short, yes. You got to go through college because of your private pilot’s license, which I’m working on right now. There’s four more licenses on top of that, so I have to go through a college course. You go through [and] take all four years and get all those [licenses]. Most colleges are like Liberty where I’m going; they have this program where it gets you with American Eagle. It’s kind of a gateway like, ‘hey, if you basically pass your classes, here’s a job.’ I plan to do that eventually. Commercial pilot is the goal.