By Portia Williams
WHEELERSBURG — Tyler Stidham doesn’t just believe he can fly. He really can. At the age of 18, Stidham, who resides in Wheelersburg, recently earned a license to fly an aircraft — an accomplishment that he has invested much time, effort, and money into.
In June of this summer, Tyler Stidham, who turned 18 on Aug. 1, 2014, achieved a goal that he has been working on for the last three years, which is obtaining his private pilots license. The first part of Stidham’s journey began with departure from the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport, accompanied by his flight instructor, Mike Chasteen, of Chasteen Aviation, Inc. in route to Lancaster, Ohio, where he would take the examination.
“It was fun, my flight instructor and I took off from Portsmouth really early in the morning because I had to be in Lancaster at 9’oclock because there is no designated pilot examiner is what they call it. There is not one around here, and the one that was here, out of Kentucky which would be closer to us was ill,” Stidham said.
After a search, he said they were able to make contact with a designated pilot examiner by the name of Kenneth Ramos out of Lancaster.
“Actually, he is the helicopter pilot for the Columbus Police, and all kinds of different stuff. He was a really nice person,” he said.
According to Stidham, Ramos administered an oral examination before he took the actual flight examination.
“He asked me a series of questions that truly were not hard. I have heard people complain about oral exams, but it really wasn’t bad,” he said. “I didn’t take a written test. I took that about a year ago, and it expires every two years.”
He said the questions from Ramos continued all the way until they boarded the plain for take-off.
“We got into the airplane, turned it on and I gave him a briefing. Pilots are supposed to do a briefing before they take their passengers up. He was very pleased with my briefing,” he said.
Nervousness for Stidham about taking the pilot test was an understatement.
“I was very nervous, and very scared. I didn’t want to fail. Actually, when we landed, I had to ask Mike where we were supposed to go because I was so nervous,” he said.
Having a safe flight was his top priority, as he performed a routine check of the aircraft.
“After that when went down to the run-up area, and tested our engine, and made sure everything was great before we took off. I did everything slowly because I didn’t want to skip anything. I took an extra step of safety for that ride. I take an extra step of safety every flight, but for that one I was really cautious about what I did, because I did not want to skip anything,” he said.
The weather the day of Stidham’s flight was marked by high winds.
“The wind was actually pretty gusty. I typically don’t fly when it is like that, but we were already there, so I decided to fly. We took off and did stalls, s-turns, all types of maneuvers. Then, he pulled the power on the engine and told me when he thought I was able to land that he would put the power back in,” he said.
The final portion of the test involved landing the aircraft safely.
“He told me that he wanted me to do a soft, field landing, and that if I did that in this amount of wind, that we would stop, and he would give me my license,” he said. “He did ask me first if I was comfortable in landing in these types of winds.”
The landing was not smooth, but safe and his mission was accomplished.
“So I landed, and he said, “Okay, you have your license.” “It was a bumpy landing, but Kenny said everything was just fine,” he said.
He said the cost of the test was very costly.
“It was very expensive. The test itself was $350 dollars, plus the airplane rental was another $300. I invested $650 into it, so it was very expensive,” he said.
“I am now licensed to fly a Cessna 172N. I fly that airplane out of our airport, or I can go and rent from another airport and fly it also,” he said. “I will just keep my private pilot’s license until after college, then I will probably go for the commercial license.”
Although he is elated about obtaining his pilot license, he said he endeavors to attend college to study dentistry after completing high school in 2015.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-370-0712 or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.