Ghate reaches new heights with pilot’s license

Senior Vikrant Ghate received a scholarship this past June from the Black Pilots of America that allowed him to learn to fly a plane at a camp in Houston, Texas. He spent more than ten hours flying, and obtained his student pilot’s license before he even got his driver’s license.
He is currently working toward receiving a private pilot’s license, which requires a physical exam, a background check, 40 hours of flight, a written knowledge exam and a check ride, during which the student must prove his abilities by flying with an aviation examiner.
For more information about flight school and related activities, students can join Civil Air Patrol by attending their weekly Tuesday night meetings at Plainfield High school at 6:30 pm, or by contacting Ghate via email at [email protected]
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Why did you decide to get your pilot’s license?
I have had a fascination with aircraft and flight since I was a child. Being up in the air is freedom in the truest sense. It is an escape from everyday struggles and stresses. It makes you aware of your surroundings.
What do you have to do in order to get a pilot’s license?
I currently have my student pilot’s license. I get to be the pilot-in-command as long as I have an instructor with me.
To get my license I had to apply and wait until the Federal Aviation Administration did a thorough background check and collected my biometrics (the identification of humans by their physical traits, usually for surveillance purposes).  I then had to pass a physical by an aviation medical examiner.
What is the hardest part of flying a plane?
Landing is the hardest part; there is so much to do in so little time. You have to call in to the air traffic control tower and see which runway you have permission to land on. You have to deploy the correct angle of flaps, which always changes depending on your speed. And coming toward the ground, you have to come in at the right angle. It’s very nerve-wracking. Any mistakes can turn a perfect flight into something disastrous.
Did you ever have any fears about flying?
No, I have always been confident. There is no room for fear because in the cockpit you must be able to make decisions at a moment’s notice.
The only time I was really afraid was when we were practicing turns, and as we decided to turn back, our engine was not giving us any power.
My instructor started making the preparations for an emergency ocean landing. Just as our wheels touched the water we tried again and it worked. We were too scared to touch it again so instead of slowing down for a landing at the airport we came in really hard and ended up breaking a wheel.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to fly, but I am well aware of the dangers.
What is the biggest difference between flying a plane and driving a car?
When driving a car all you have to do is steer left and right and accelerate or brake. In a plane you can steer up, down, left and right using the yoke. You also have to use both of your legs on the rudder pedal to steer the back end of your plane.
The major difference is that everything you need to do is on a panel in front of you, whereas in a car the only things on the panel are a radio and heating settings. There is also no brake in a plane to slow down or stop while flying.
What do you see yourself doing with your pilot’s license in the future?
I would like to use my license for recreation and would love to just fly to places I have never seen before.