Chapter 35 Ray Scholar Updates

By Evan Carrell, EAA 1300856

Three years ago when I took my first Young Eagles ride and subsequently joined EAA Chapter 35, I had no idea that that decision would change the course of my life. From that point on I have been obsessed with the idea of flying for a living, and I have been chomping at the bit, at any opportunity I am given to go fly. 

At the Boerne Stage Field Airport (5C1), I first started flying gliders with Dave White. He has been flying the Pipistrel Sinus there since 2014 and has been instrumental in helping students earn their glider ratings. I first learned about the motorglider at the Chapter 35 Christmas party, when I saw Allen Inks, EAA 684542, a chapter member here at San Geronimo, fly into the airpark in a Pipistrel of his own. After a little bit of nagging he finally agreed to give me a short flight around the pattern. I was hooked, although more difficult to fly then the Cherokees I was used to, the fact that I could fly solo at just 14 years old was a driving factor behind my interest. 

From there he gave me a pamphlet about the Pipistrel and connected me with the instructor that he knew locally, Mr. White. I was only able to take a flight every month or so because of me being out of work, but that changed very soon after I applied for the Ray Aviation Scholarship. 

I was finally able to take flight lessons regularly, and for the first time, experienced real progression in my training. From August, when the scholarship was issued, it only took until October to be ready for my first solo flight, but little did I know that the feeling of flying by myself would be incredibly short-lived. The same afternoon after my first solo flight, the aircraft went into its annual inspection. 

Throughout this process my family had been looking for land to buy so we could sell our current house and they had finally settled on a decent-sized chunk of land in Texarkana, Texas. The first day our house was on the market, it sold for above asking price, and although my parents were thrilled, I was not. I’ve never been able to fly the Pipistrel again, but little did I know that there was actually another kind of motor glider at the only flight school at the  Texarkana Regional Airport (KTXK). 

The Stemme S10-VT has a 50:1 glide ratio, turbocharged engine, retractable landing gear, and folding propeller. So in other words, it’s very complex. I took my first flight in the Stemme the second day I was in Texarkana, and I was astounded by the performance. We took it up to 11,000 feet and shut off the engine. At this point my new instructor Caleb Batista and I both took our headsets off, and just listened to the sound of the wind whistling around the canopy. It was the most serene flying I had done up to that point, and I was astounded. 

With this new aircraft being a tailwheel, I was hesitant to try and land on my first flight, but it really isn’t that different from the Pipistrel, other than the landing attitude. The Stemme has a steerable tailwheel, so it’s not as challenging to taxi as a castering tailwheel. 

Other than trying to learn to talk to the tower, the switch from 5C1 to KTXK hasn’t been anything noteworthy, although it is very nice to have a crosswind runway. I am now doing takeoffs and landings on my own, and I am currently looking forward to my seventh lesson next week. 

By Maryjane Marroquin, EAA 1357794

This past December I was awarded a Ray Aviation Scholarship. I think I may have sounded calm on the phone with Frank Covington, EAA 1228987, as he delivered the news, but do not be fooled — I definitely screamed afterward. To receive this scholarship meant not only that I would finally begin flying, something one must do to obtain a career as a naval aviator — which is what I will one day be — but it also meant that y’all, EAA Chapter 35, trusted in and believed in me. My whole life I had to believe in myself and work really hard for what I want and oftentimes I felt as though I was overlooked and that made me kind of doubt what I was doing. So to have earned this scholarship solely based on my character and my accomplishments reassures me that I am doing something right.

I was extremely doubtful of my abilities to fly my first lesson when Dave White threw me on the stick. I remember thinking that airplanes were not the type of thing you can make mistakes on so when he handed off the stick to yours truly I definitely gave him a wild look. I quickly got comfortable though. Throughout my flight lessons I performed every maneuver relatively well; I do not know if that is because my love for flying is so grand or because I have some natural ability. Well, whatever it is, it’s helping. I have not gotten too many lessons in for the month of January due to weather and such, I swear I have never been so aware of weather till I began flying, but I hope I can get more in as the weather stabilizes some. I really want to solo!

Even on days where I feel my flight performance could have been stronger, I am just grateful I got the opportunity to be in the air. Every time I fly I feel my complete best. Being in the air is hands down the finest feeling there is. I deal with a great workload and I am quite stressed a lot of the time, but when I fly it all vanishes. When I fly I am solely focused on the task at hand and I am entirely in the moment…It is a beautiful moment with a delightful sight. It can be quite stressful at times, but not stressful like calculus homework or working a nine-hour shift at Walmart, but more so a good stressful? I am unsure how to explain it, but as fliers yourselves I am sure y’all know exactly what I am describing. Or maybe I sound weird, I don’t know.

Every time someone asks me about flying I stumble over my words. I don’t think that is because I am unsure of what to say, but more so that I have so much to say and I am unsure how to say it because it’s more than an experience, it’s a feeling and I have never been too great at expressing those.

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