Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Flight school: Ryan Phillips earned his pilots license while still in RVHS

  • When he was growing up, Ryan Phillips went on family trips with his parents, but often found himself as interested in the means of getting there as in the destination....
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  • When he was growing up, Ryan Phillips often went on family trips with his parents, Clark and Vicki. Unlike most kids who travel around the country, Phillips found himself as interested in the means of getting there as in the destination. “I’ve always liked flying and being around airplanes,” Phillips said Tuesday, as he got ready to start training as a commercial pilot next week at the University of North Dakota flight school. Considering Phillips graduated from Redwood Valley High School only last May, balancing high school while earning his single engine pilot’s license was a struggle. “When I was 14, my father told me about the Civil Air Patrol,” said Phillips, explaining it’s an auxiliary of the Air Force. “It’s sort of like the Boy Scouts. We’d meet once a week at the Hutchinson airport to learn emergency services.” About six months into the Civil Air Patrol, Phillips went on five orientation flights, “something they do to find out if you’re really serious about learning to fly.” Phillips was. That started several years of online courses and real-life flight instruction in Hutchinson. “At first I averaged two flight lessons a month, because I was super busy with school and cross country and track,” he said. “I’d focus on school work, and if I had any extra time on the weekends I’d do the flight work.” Phillips did his first solo flight when he was 16. Among other skills he had to learn was navigation — getting from place to place both from looking at the landscape below, and using just instruments ahead of him in the cockpit. This past summer, after graduation, Phillips headed up to Hutchinson an average of three times a week until he accumulated approximately 72 hours of flight time, both solo and with an instructor. On July 30, Phillips got his license; he estimated about half the 400+ students in his freshman class at UND next week will also have their pilots licenses. “I move to UND on Thursday, and the next time I’ll be in a plane is next Wednesday, doing ‘flight lab’,” he said. Phillips’ long-term goal is to be a commercial airline pilot. He estimates it will take about 10 years. “It’s four years to earn the degree, then you must work at a regional airline until you have 1.500 hours. After that, you can write your own ticket for wherever you want to go.” Phillips did admit there are a few things about starting flight school that make him nervous. “There are a lot of steps to go through, a ridiculous amount of paperwork all along,” he said. “With all the government regulations, you really have to stay on top of it. There’s a lot of redundancy — I don’t know how many times I’ve filled out some forms.” So in the end, what exactly about flying does Phillips like? “Getting to see everything, getting to do something not a lot of people accomplish,” he said. “Lots of people say they want to become pilots, but not a lot ever do.”
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