takes to the skyBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Love of flying leads 16-year-old Mason Brown to pursue private pilot license.
At an age when most teenagers are learning to drive and getting their driver’s licenses, something was pulling Mason Brown’s focus to the sky.
The Madison resident, who is in the 10th grade at Madison Central High School, learned to fly before he learned to drive a vehicle.
“Aviation has been a big part of my life, since I was growing up,” Brown said.
His great-grandfather was a pilot in World War II, and his grandfather flew as a hobby.
Brown always knew he wanted to be the one in the cockpit one day.
“I got my first flight lesson for my 14th birthday,” he said. “Since then, I’ve just kept doing it and taking lessons several times a year.”
This led him to where he is now, pursuing his private pilot license.
For the first two years of lessons, Brown flew around three times a year.
Once he turned 16, he worked toward earning his student license.
Now, he flies at least once a week.
“I did around 10 lessons last month,” he said.
Now that he has his student license, he is able to fly solo. He cannot earn his private license until he turns 17.
So, after his 17th birthday, he will finish the process, which includes an oral exam and a “check ride.”
“You have to get your 40-plus hours of flight time, and you take ground school and the FFA written test and then the oral exam and the check ride,” he said. “You go with the check ride examiner and you’ll fly with them and perform all these different functions to show that you are able to do it correctly.”
Then he will receive his private certificate. The final examination is a half-day event.
As much as Brown enjoys flying, it is not just a hobby for him. He plans to pursue a career as a pilot.
“I wanted to pursue this as something I do for the rest of my life,” he said. “You know what they say, if you’re having fun with what you’re doing, you’re not really working, and that’s how I feel about it.”
After roughly four months of private pilot school, which consists of two two-and-a-half hour classes each week, he was able to tackle his first solo ride a few weeks ago.
“Two years later I’m sitting in the plane by myself. That’s pretty special,” he said. “You just think about all the hard work you put into it. It’s really something that I appreciate.”
His parents are proud of his efforts to reach his goal.
“I know God has prepared a path for Mason, and it brings me great joy to watch him living his dream,” his mother Mac Brown said. “My heart can sometimes seem like it’s about to burst from how proud I am at his determination to reach his goals. Being sixteen can be challenging at times but Mason pushes through, unleashing his potential, while holding on to his inner strength and faith. He inspires me every day.”
On his first solo ride, he did three takeoffs and three landings. Although he knew what he was doing, he was nervous for the first one.
“Not only is it fun to do, it’s something I’m really passionate about doing,” Brown said.
So far, the most difficult part of his training has been the preparation required outside of the aircraft, including homework.
“Very little of what you do preparation wise is done in the air. A lot of it is on the ground,” he said.
He plans to go to a four-year college and major in something related to aviation or engineering. Then, he plans to pursue a career with an airline.
Brown is the son of Spencer and Mac Brown.