When we are little some of us have dreams of becoming pilots. It's one of those things that some little kids talk about but few ever do. Ben Mallott a sophomore in Environmental Science is an exception.
Since he was a little boy, he would fly everywhere. "I'm from Alaska, and the town I live in, Juno, has no roads out," Mallott says, "so we kind of had to fly everywhere."
Mallott has been flying for as long as he can remember, he said that though he couldn't recall the exact time he started flying, it was probably when he was about a month old. "I think it was when we flew to Yakutat, a small Thlingit (pronounced Klinkit) village, where my dad grew up."
From that first flight, Ben hasn't stopped flying. Sometimes flying away for the weekend to go visit friends in different states. "My dad," says Mallott is on the board of directors of the for Alaskan Air Group, which oversees Alaskan Airlines, Horizon, as well as a small commuter airline in Alaska, Era."
To become a pilot, according to Mallott, you have to have a good sense of direction, good eyesight, good problem solving skills, and "if you can't drive, then you shouldn't be flying."
To become a pilot, you have to have about 40 hours of flying time, and you have to take lessons at an FAA accredited flying school with an accredited instructor.
"My instructor got his license at 80 hours," Mallott said, "I will probably get mine at about 70."
Ben wanted to get his license last year when he was at Embry-Riddle in Arizona, but he didn't feel like paying 120 an hour for flight lessons, and he didn't have the time when he was in high school, so he figured that since he moved to Corvallis, he might as well try and get his license.
"It usually takes about a year for someone to get their license, but it all depends on what type of program you are on, like if it's accelerated, or if it's normal." Mallott said.
"I have only been flying since November, and I almost have it, so it varies from person to person."
Of course Ben will have some restrictions when he starts flying, he cannot have paying passengers, and must fly single engine planes with less than 200 horsepower, and he is basically restricted to visual flying rules (VFR). These rules are basic rules that govern the times of day and how high he can fly.
Getting your pilot's license is like getting your driver's license. You have to pass a check ride, which is equivalent to the driving portion of the test, and you must also pass a written test.
After he gets his license, Mallott can fly the Cessna 152 that he's been learning on until he can get checked out on a larger plane.
Does Ben have lofty ambitions on becoming a commercial pilot?
"Well," he says, "it's about 50/50 right now between being a commercial pilot and being an environmental lawyer, if I did go into law it would be more on the policy side of things."
"My dream plane to fly would be a 737 for Alaska Airlines," Mallott said, "either that or a 900."
So remember when you are looking toward the skies of Corvallis next year, and if you see a plane, wave because it could be Ben flying overhead. I guess some little kids actually do follow their dreams.