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Worth the Wait

By Stephen Koewler
February 22, 2011

Stephen Koewler takes us through his journey into the world of aviation, culminating in his flight in his flight with Julie Clark, renowned aerobatic air show pilot.

When people see how much time I spend in and around airplanes (and how much money I spend), one of the first things they ask is how I came to find this passion within myself. They often assume that my dad is a pilot, or that I grew up around airplanes, but in fact neither are true. It is true, however, that I have been interested (obsessed) in airplanes and flying for most of my life, and the conversation often leads to me telling the story of my introduction to the world of aviation at the age of four.

I can’t remember a lot of my childhood, but the day I first saw airplanes up close was one I can never forget. My mom, dad, grandfather and uncle, a commercial pilot, and a few others went to the Stockton Airshow in 1996. I remember being so thrilled and amazed by it—my mom did not share my same sentiment. It was so unbearably hot, but as an energetic six-year-old, I wasn’t even slowed down; my mom felt differently. To her, the airshow simply wasn’t worth the sweat, and she was ready to head for the air-conditioned comforts of home. I tried with all the tears I could muster to convince her to stay, but her mind was made up. Julie Clark was one of the shows headliners, and she had just painted her famous heart-shaped loop in the sky with her trademark red white and blue smoke, I was in awe; my mom, unimpressed. We started gathering our things and heading for the gate as Julie wrapped up her routine and came in to land. I had had one of her autograph cards in my hand all day. The card was adorned with her picture, her airplane and of course, the Mopar logo, all that was missing was her autograph. As my mom inched us toward the car, I put up as much of a fight as a six-year-old could. I dragged my feet, I cried, I pouted, I tried everything to get back to the airfield, towards the runway, towards the airplanes, but my efforts were all in vain. After a while my mom relented and got some helicopter pilot who was wearing a flight suit to sign Julie’s picture, but it didn’t even distract me. Stockton is not far from Sacramento, but I made it seem like the longest car ride of our lives. It took a while, but I eventually stopped my pouting, though the seeds of my passion were securely planted

After five years of waiting, several book reports on the Wright Brothers, and countless viewings of Top Gun, I finally got a ride in an airplane. It was a Saturday morning in the spring of 2001 when my uncle Pete, who was living with us at the time, offered me a chance to go flying with him and one of his buddies. He cautioned me that I would have to sit in the back, and that they would be busy up front, but I had no problems with that. As we were on our way to the airport, Pete’s friend called him and said that he was not going to be able to make the flight. For the first time in my life I got upgraded to first class, and in a big way.

We got to the airport and headed for Executive Flyers, where in addition to the key for the airplane, Pete also grabbed a phonebook for me to sit on so I could see over the dash. He decided it would be more fun (cheaper) to take a Cessna 152 than the 172, which he had initially planned on taking. With that, we headed out to the ramp and out towards N68280, an old 152 with a red, white, and blue paint scheme. When I first saw it, I must admit I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t shiny like Julie’s polished T-34, and it lacked the afterburner that Maverick’s Tomcat had, but she would prove herself.

Pete set a great example for me as we went straight down the checklist on the preflight walk-around. We hopped in, me on a phone book in the left seat, the pilot’s seat, Pete on the right, the copilot’s seat. We got gas and before I knew it, I was struggling to follow what seemed like gibberish when Pete called up the tower and requested permission to taxi. We headed for the runway, did a short run-up and lined up on runway 20. I remember still struggling to see over the dash, so I looked out the window to my left. As we picked up speed I remember seeing foxes scatter away from the runway as we buzzed by, and soon, I saw the earth retreat. I felt a new yet comfortable sensation in my stomach that definitely let me know we were no longer attached to the ground. We headed out to the Southeast where Pete tried to scare me a little bit.

We leveled off at about three thousand feet when Pete threw us into an abrupt steep turn to the left in an effort to scare me. It was to no avail, and as soon as he righted the airplane, I asked if we could do it again. He tried again with stalls and some very unusual attitudes, but nothing worked on me. I loved every minute of it. We went out over some soft rolling hills, where cattle grazed peacefully. Pete eased the nose down, minutes later we were down among the trees. I remember laughing hysterically as I looked out the window as cows scattered just a couple hundred feet below our wheels. We made another pass or two, and then climbed back up to altitude. Pete told me to put my hands on the control wheel, which I did without hesitation. He told me good job, and that I was flying the airplane all by myself. I glanced over and saw that his hands were resting in his lap; I don’t think I’ve ever been so focused on any one thing before or since that moment. Pete talked me through a few turns and taught me how to maintain altitude and how to use references outside the airplane to determine our attitude.

Pete motioned out to the left and said “Take us over there.” I rolled the airplane very gently and applied the slightest bit of backpressure; Pete worked his feet on the pedals, keeping us coordinated. After about ten minutes of an impromptu flight lesson, Pete took back the airplane, and we headed for home. I was in love with the air and have spent the rest of my life gazing skyward, fulfilling DaVinci’s prophecy.

Fast-forward nine years: I’m 20 years old and on summer vacation between my second and third years at Seattle University. I’m a student pilot doing everything I can to become involved in the world of aviation. I’m a manager for the 2010 California Capital Airshow, and more importantly, a frequent guest of Duncan Miller’s hangar in Vacaville, CA. Duncan is a lifelong aviator, he owns 12 airplanes that fill up his 5 hangars on the Nut Tree Airport; he is a friend and mentor to his countless guests that visit his hangar weekly. When Duncan isn’t entertaining his guests, he is out buzzing around in his 1940 Piper Cub, which he flies almost daily. Duncan had a great gathering for his 89th birthday during July of that summer. I was initially supposed to miss the party due to a prior engagement in San Francisco, luckily it finished early and my dad and I were able to stop by the airport for the last hour or so of the party. Just as we were parking the car we see a yellow T-28 make a low pass over the runway. By the time we walked across the ramp to meet at Duncan’s hangar, the T-28 was right behind us. A large group gathered to greet the incoming pilot and long-time friend of Duncan’s. Iris Taggart, who had been the one to introduce me to Duncan and all my friends at Nut Tree Airport, grabbed me and as the propeller slowed to a stop she informed me that this was Julie Clark’s T-28. I was excited to finally meet her, as Iris had been trying to introduce me to her for the better part of a year.

Despite my excitement, I couldn’t help but mingle with other friends while a swarm of Julie’s fans and friends surrounded her airplane as she jumped off the wing. It seemed that all Julie wanted to do was take care of her airplane, but the hordes of people prevented her from doing that. Needless to say, she was irritated. After a while the party died down, the crowd shrank, and the sun was headed for the horizon. By this time, Iris had introduced my dad and I to Julie and we had been talking for a while. Iris explained to Julie that she had had one of the biggest roles in sparking my passion for aviation, and my dad joked that she nearly bankrupted him in doing so. Julie began getting ready to depart and the rest of us wished her well.

There were about ten people still hanging around when the time came for Julie to climb in and fire up. When she did, an incredible amount of smoke began pouring out of the exhaust as if she were flying her routine for an airshow. As she was doing everything she could to keep the engine running smoothly, one of the bystanders went up to the side of the airplane and wiped his hand down the cowling. He held his hand up for her to see and when she saw it was covered in oil, she killed the engine immediately. When the smoke cleared we could see that there was oil thrown out of the exhaust that streaked the entire length of the airplane. She climbed out and with the help of all the bystanders the mess was cleaned up in minutes. She explained that she was throwing so much oil due to the failure of her pre-oil pump. Because this pump was inoperative, she chose not to scavenge the excess oil out of the cylinders when she shut down so that there would at least be some oil in the engine when she went to crank up.

Julie realized how much of a mess this was going to be when she got back to her home at Cameron Park. I took a step forward and offered to do all the cleaning if I could just ride with her home. “You’re so sweet,” She laughed as if I were joking. “I’m serious!” I replied. She began to consider it and asked how I would get home, as Cameron Park is twenty miles past my home, which was forty miles from where we were in Vacaville. I pointed to my dad and put on the biggest smile I could. My dad rolled his eyes and sighed, “Yeah, I’ll pick you up.” I looked back at Julie and she told me to climb up. I climbed up, strapped on the parachute, and tightened my seatbelts as Julie briefed me about how to jettison the canopy if we needed to get out in a hurry. Julie strapped herself in, scavenged the oil out of the bottom cylinders and crossed her fingers that there would be enough lubrication for the pistons to move freely.

The pistons moved, the crankshaft spun and the engine roared to life. The North American T-28 Trojan is a monstrous airplane compared to the Pipers and Cessnas in which I had done most of my flying. It was a trainer for both the Air Force and the Navy in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. Two steps are built into the flaps that must be lowered in order to climb onto the airplane. The bottom of the fuselage sits more than three feet above the ground on top of massive landing gear legs. The cockpit is quite roomy when sitting behind that huge Wright 1820 9-cylinder engine and I found myself surprisingly comfortable.

As we taxied out to the Runway, the group followed to see us off. We did a short run-up and taxied onto the numbers, seconds later we were dipping the left wing giving our spectators a goodbye wave. Julie is sponsored by Chevron so we decided to stop at Lincoln airport on the way home where Chevron gas is sold so she could pump 91 gallons of 100 low lead, courtesy of the oil industry. The flight to Lincoln was reminiscent of any other cross-country flight except for the obvious increase in performance. We climbed with low power and still achieved an ascent of 2200 feet per minute; we leveled off and cruised very comfortably at just under 200 knots.

After our short pit stop in Lincoln, we hopped back in and headed for Cameron Park. We climbed out at high power and leveled off at about 7500 feet; once we got out over Folsom Lake Julie threw the throttle forward and pulled us into a smooth and comfortable 4g barrel roll. Having little aerobatic experience, my g-tolerance was quite limited, so I began to gray out before we completed the maneuver. She went almost immediately into an aileron roll, demonstrating the quick roll rate of the giant bird. We continued on our way to Cameron Park, but first she had to fly over her grandkids’ house and give them a wave. After that was done, Julie righted the airplane and handed it over to me.

I slid my feet forward onto the pedals, placed my left hand on the throttle, and grasped the stick with my right hand. I played around for a bit getting to know the airplane. Before then, I’d always thought of the T-28 as a big, ugly, brutish airplane, but let me tell you, she is a sweetheart to fly. She flies like an airplane ought to fly. She’s unbelievably light on the controls, the throttle is responsive, the visibility is unobstructed, and the cockpit layout makes it all too easy. I made some steep turns to the left and to the right and just rolled her back and forth trying to get my hands and feet coordinated. After an affair that was all too brief, I pointed us in the direction of Cameron Park, and we resumed on our way, but now I was the pilot, Julie the passenger. I started a descent rather late, so Julie flipped a switch, extending the speed brake on the belly of the airplane. I brought us down to pattern altitude while maneuvering for the 45-degree entry into the downwind leg, and it all seemed so easy. It was as if I just thought about where I wanted the airplane to go, and it went there. Julie helped me out a bit with the trim, which constantly needs to be adjusted because the airplane gets lighter by about six pounds every minute as it burns fuel.

I handed the airplane back over to Julie when we were on base leg for runway 13 at Cameron Park, and she set her down right on the numbers. We rolled off the runway and taxied right up to her hangar, which is attached to her house. As usual, a small crowd of people began to form as Julie scavenged the oil out of the bottom cylinders and we prepared to climb out, this time, it was her neighbors. The flight ended all too soon, but what an incredible flight it was. I began making good on my promise to wipe the oil off the sides of the airplane, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as before. As Julie towed the airplane into her hangar, I spotted Iris and my dad driving up the street toward us. The sun had just fallen completely below the horizon, and the streetlights buzzed on. We got the airplane into the hangar and I continued cleaning up the oil, my dad grabbed a rag and helped me as Julie and Iris chatted and retrieved things out of the cockpit.

After we were finished, we headed inside for a visit and a drink. The four of us talked and drank until after two in the morning, when something I had always wanted finally happened. Julie Clark is a Certificated Flight Instructor, which means that she was able to endorse my logbook for flight training I had received, and I would get the autograph I once wanted so badly. It was certainly worth the wait.

Written by
Stephen Koewler

Stephen Koewler is a life-long aviation enthusiast currently studying at Seattle University, and a student pilot flying the Piper Cherokee Warrior II.

3 User Comments:
Username: SPIRITAIRLINE [User Info]
Posted 2011-02-26 02:46:54 and read 32768 times.

From: "Pinto, Bobby"
Cc: sjl@piclife.com
Sent: Fri, February 25, 2011 7:31:36 PM
Subject: RE:Gulfstream Training Academy


My name is Bobby Pinto; I work with Gulfstream Training

Academy (GTA). I am following up with you because you had

requested for information about our First Officer Program. I

hope things are going well for you. I am sending you this

e-mail with helpful information, so Please read it carefully.

You can also go to our website at
www.gulfstreamacademy.com for the latest information. I also

wanted to see if I could answer any questions you had about us

after reading this e-mail.

Our Airline, Gulfstream Int'l Airlines dba Continental

Connection only hires its pilots that have gone through our

First Officer Program here at Gulfstream Training Academy.

We fly all over Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba. We also have

opened up new routes up North. You might want to check our

Airline out at
www.gulfstreamair.com and see the new routes that we opened up

in the NE and just in, we will also be serving out west in

Montana now as well.

I would like to tell you a little more about the latest

happenings at our Academy and Airline. I would also like to

talk with you and explain to you about our programs and about

some pilots that were in your position several years ago and

decided to come here and show you where they are now. I can

even give you some contact numbers to call them and ask them

some questions directly.

The minimum requirements to get into our First Officer Program

is for you to get your ratings; Private, Instrument and

Commercial/Multi with a minimum of 250hrs. If you do not have

these ratings yet we can recommend to you some flight schools

to help you with your ratings. They will charge you fairly and

get them done as quickly as possible. On average it takes 6

months to complete these ratings full time and will cost you

around $50-$60,000. But give us a call and we can help you in

choosing the right path in becoming an Airline Pilot. Remember

I have students coming here with as little as 250hrs for these

ratings to well over 4,000hrs. From 18 years old to well over

50! The majority in their 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's! But all

coming for the same reason to get the hours and experience

they really need to get them the job they want. We help people

at all levels get to their goals a lot quicker, a lot cheaper

and with a higher success rate than any other route.

The price is $32,699 and the training takes approximately 8-10

months (3 months of ground school and 5-7 months of flying on

our Airline). That includes all study material. It DOES NOT

include room and board and housing. The 3 months that you do

your training here you can stay at one of our dorms. It is

$399 a month for a double and $599 a month for a single. Food

and misc. you figure $100 per week and a couple of sets of

uniforms around $200. Also remember while you are flying the

250hrs you are being paid $19 per hour. So if you divide this

program up including with what you are getting (Part 121

Airline Training and experience, a Type Rating and a little

over 250hrs of Part 121 Turbine Multi-Engine Time as A Paid

First Officer on a 121 Airline...) that's less than $120 per

hour for Turbine/121 Time. You can't even rent a 172 w/ an

instructor for that cheap!

If you do not have a degree yet you can obtain one once you

are completed with the program and flying for a regional and

they will give you anywhere from 20 to well over 30 credits

towards your aviation degree because of your experience and

you will also get 3 to 5 years more of Seniority at the end of

your career and that is huge! A degree is not required at a

regional a Major yes but regional no but for you to go to a

major you also need a lot of hours. For example look at one of

our young pilots Nick. He came to us at 18 he is 21 now and is

almost done with his degree on-line (which he started once he

started to fly) and he has well over 2500hrs of Turbine Part

121 Airline experience! Again if you need more info on that

please contact me. But if you already have a degree then you

are fine. Also we do have financing if you qualify, please

give us a call and we can help you with that. International

Students do not qualify for this type of loans unfortunately.

Please read below and once you have gone through this letter

please contact me so I can answer any questions you might

have. We also take VA benefits as well if you are coming out

of the military. If ever there was a time to become an airline

pilot that time is now. Just an FYI, the need for pilots has

increased tenfold. If ever there was a time to get in, it

would be now. Remember once you complete the training

successfully we will be help you with a job placement with

Continental Connection or one of our partner airlines who hire

our pilots graduates as well. With Turbine/121 time and

experience on a real airline...Who do you think they are going

to hire first? Pilot's that have Turbine/121 experience or

Pilot's with just piston time and no experience?? Even in

today's economy our pilots are still getting hired right now

as we speak.

Take a look at our grads. They just went through a very, very

tough First Officer training program just like any airline and

then flew on a real airline, a Part 121 passenger airline as a

First Officer. The planes we fly the Beechcraft 1900D's are

turbo-props they have no auto pilot so you have to fly and

whether it is a Turbo-Prop or Turbo-Jet it is a Turbine engine

a Turbine system and you now have to deal with the airline

life; passengers, Captains, scheduling, dispatch, crash pads,

overnights, commuting, ATC. Where can you get this type of

experience?? Instructing? Now do not get me wrong, instructors

are needed BUT not everyone is cut out to be an instructor.

One has to be a special individual to be a good instructor and

that is a good thing because someone has to teach these new

students. But going back if they do not want to CFI then why

force someone to instruct or teach when they do not want to?

For example, from a sports view, if you are a great player

that does not mean you will be a great coach. Remember being a

CFI or having CFI ratings is not a requirement at a regional

or major. And either way you still have to pay for your CFI

ratings. Also some try to build hours in a 135 or 91

operation, what kind of training are you getting here? What

kind of experience? Again another option but with the time you

spend trying to build hours which most is not what these

airlines are looking for, you are losing time and money

because in this Airline industry it is all about Seniority and

more time you are not in an Airline the more money you are

losing. We just had a 19 year old that just got hired at a

larger Regional with a little over 800hrs of total time BUT he

had over 250hrs of Turbine Part 121 Time and Experience on his


We are just an option for building hours and we offer quality

hours and experience here BUT with people that come here

already with their CFI ratings and lots of hours we can also

help them.

But if you stay and upgrade to Captain on our airline and get

over 1000hrs of PIC Time then our Captains here are going to

Major and National Airlines. For example AirTran, Continental,

Spirit, UPS, Southwest and American Airlines just to name a

few have hired our Captains at an alarming rate. And will

continue to do so in the future. But you still need PIC

Turbine time to get there sorry but PIC piston time is not

going to get you into a major. And the only way to get that is

until you upgrade to Captain at a regional.

But again our airline only hires it pilots (F/O's) from the

Academy. No one in the country has this program. No one. We

have been in business for over 17 years and our Academy and

Airline will continue to move ahead in the future for a long

time. We now have over 1700 pilots in every Airline you can

think of. If there was a problem out there then gee we would

not be losing over 100 pilots each year again it is not a

coincidence anymore.

Hopefully this helps you on your decision. If you have more

questions please contact me. I can also give you some numbers

of former students that are now flying in other airlines and

they can give you their version and if you want to come to our

facility for a tour we can also accommodate that for you to.

Ask about our tour reimbursement program. We will reimburse

you up to $300 for your flight and hotel if you are coming out

of state or fly you for free on our Airline if you are near

one of our destinations here in Florida.

Again my recommendation to you, is to get your ratings done

ASAP, get into our F/O program and start flying for an airline

and start building Real Time (Turbine Time) and Real

Experience (Part 121 Airline Passenger) and get a Seniority

number then work on your degree on-line (if you do not have

one already) and you will be fine from there and you will be

way ahead of anyone your age that went the other route. If you

are looking to go to bigger and better things, which most of

our pilots do, then see where you can upgrade to Captain the

quickest and 4-5 years down the road you will be golden.

If there ever was a time to be a pilot it is now.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to

contact me. Thanks again for your inquiry and have a great


Bobby Pinto

Pilot Recruiter

Gulfstream Training Academy

3201 Griffin Rd.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 33312

Tel: 1-877-359-4853 ext. 235

Cell: 1-954-557-6299

Fax: 1-954-874-0606

E-mail: bobby.pinto@gulfstreamacademy.com

Website: www.GulfstreamAcademy.com

This message, and any attachments to it, may contain

information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from

disclosure under applicable law. If the reader of this message

is not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use,

dissemination, distribution, copying, or communication of this

message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this

message in error, please notify the sender immediately by

return e-mail and delete the message and any attachments.

Thank you.

From: Gulfstream [mailto:gta@rugbyamericaproductions.com]
Sent: Friday, February 25, 2011 12:54 PM
To: James Bystrom; Pinto, Bobby
Subject: Fwd: Form Submission Thu, 24 Feb 2011 01:29:31 -0700

Begin forwarded message:

> From: formmailer@secureserver.net
> Date: February 24, 2011 3:32:35 AM EST
> To: info@gulfstreamtrainingacademy.com
> Subject: Form Submission Thu, 24 Feb 2011 01:29:31 -0700
> Reply-To: info@gulfstreamtrainingacademy.com
> Phone: 8055912170
> Query:
> ADDISON, TX 75001
> sjl@piclife.com
> http://www.lamaisonhotel-ng.com/
> Hotline: 08160684669; 07098111865
> Email: enquiry@lamaisonhotel-ng.com,
> info@lamaisonhotel-ng.com
> submitButtonName: Submit Query
> -----
> This e-mail was generated from a form submission on your


Username: SPIRITAIRLINE [User Info]
Posted 2011-02-27 23:34:35 and read 32768 times.

SACRAMENTO CA, 95822-4138
+234 (0) 803 700 7020
Registration # 156544982

Please write this number down in your records, or print this page. In a few minutes, you will receive an e-mail confirmation as we further process your registration.

Toll Free in US: 877-359-4853
Outside the US: 954-874-0499


Bobby Pinto - Pilot Recruiter - Gulfstream Training Academy

3201 Griffin Road
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33312

Username: SPIRITAIRLINE [User Info]
Posted 2011-04-06 01:34:00 and read 32768 times.

I want us to transact this business and share the money
Jack Zellman
Add to Contacts

I am Mr. Jack Zellman, Director Unit United Nations Inspection Agent in Hartsfield International Airport Atlanta Georgia USA . During our investigation, I discovered An abandoned shipment through a Diplomat from United Kingdom via Africa under iship forwarder which was transferred from JF Kennedy Airport to our facility here in Atlanta. When scanned, it revealed an undisclosed sum of money in a Metal Trunk Box weighing approximately 55kg each. The consignment was abandoned because the Content was not properly declared by the consignee as (money) rather it was declared as personal effect to avoid diversion by the Shipping Agent also the Diplomat inability to pay for Non Inspection Fees.

On my assumption, each of the boxes will contain more than $3 to $4M each and the consignment is still left in storage house till today through a registered shipping Company, Diplomatic Courier Service Limited a division of Tran guard made for Top politicians and Top Government officers . The Consignment are two boxes with weight of about 55kg each (Internal dimension: W61 x H156 x D73 (cm). Effective capacity: 380 L.)Approximately.

The details of the consignment included your name, are tagged on the Trunk boxes so provide your private Phone Number full address, name of nearest Airport around and other details. You can send the required details to me for onward delivery. All communication must be held extremely confidential. I can get everything concluded within 1-2days upon your acceptance and proceed to your address for delivery. But I must get assurance from you concerning sharing 50%/50% before I will proceed.

I want us to transact this business and share the money, since the shippers have abandoned it. I will pay for the Non inspection fee with the Demurrage and arrange for the boxes to be moved out of this Airport to your address, once we are through I will deploy the services of a secured shipping Company geared to provide the security it needs to your doorstep. Or I can bring it by myself to avoid any more trouble. But I will share it 50% to you and 50% to me. But you have to assure me of my share. If you agreed with my condition get back to me immediately.

MR. Jack Zellman

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