From balancing college applications and a busy school life to taking flight lessons, senior Gabriella “Gigi” Goldberg reaches “sky high” to meet her dreams of becoming a pilot. Her passion for flying has led her on her way to getting an official pilot’s license. She tells The Paw Print about why she loves flying and her latest accomplishments and aspirations.
Q: When and how did you become interested in learning to fly a plane?
A: “My grandpa was a fighter pilot, and I remember when I was younger he would always talk about his flying expeditions, and so when—I think it was probably the beginning of this year—I decided I didn’t want to go into the medical field anymore because I knew it wasn’t for me, I looked otherwise. I knew I liked the STEM field so I discovered piloting; my dad recommended it to me. And so, this summer, I took my first flight lesson and I absolutely loved it and I’m hooked on it now.”
Q: When did you start taking flight lessons?
A: “My first flight lesson was actually during the summer. So, that was July 2, that was my first flight lesson. But the interest of piloting came earlier then. I was planning on getting my pilot’s license earlier in sophomore year but I never had the chance.”
Q: What inspired you to do this?
A: “It was definitely the sense of adventure. I’ve always been adventurous and I want to travel a lot and, I loved how, becoming a pilot, I could take that into my own hands. It was definitely my grandpa—he came into play when inspiring me to be a pilot.”
Q: What was the most difficult part of the learning experience?
A: “It was definitely my first flight lesson. I knew nothing about piloting—I didn’t know any terminology or such, and my first flight lesson they just threw me on a plane with an instructor and they just had me take the reigns pretty much. And so, that was my first flight lesson. It was exhilarating, and I loved that.”
Q: How do you think having this skill will benefit you in the future? Where do you see yourself going with flying?
A: “So, I haven’t gotten my pilot’s license yet. I’m currently still taking lessons, but I do see this: making it as a career. I want to become a fighter pilot in the Air Force—that’s my biggest dream. And so, I’ll go to college and I’ll join the Air Force ROTC in that college, and I’d join the Air Force by way of ROTC. And then, after pilot training and ROTC, and my time in the Air Force, I hope to become a commercial airline pilot. My dream would be to become an international commercial airline pilot. And so, my flying expeditions would be three or four days and I would fly to my designated country, and I would just fly back and forth—and that’s my dream.”
Q: How has quarantine and the pandemic affected this activity for you?
A: “I wouldn’t say that the quarantine has affected it so much, I would say the precautions coming with COVID-19. So when you’re in the cockpit you have to wear your headset and your microphone so you can talk to your co-pilot/my instructor. And we always have to wear a mask on, while we’re in there, and it’s a lot more difficult to hear a person with a mask on, but it’s a necessary precaution to take. There’s a lot less frequent flight lessons they’re booking, so it’s definitely harder to book your lessons.”
Q: Are you still taking lessons right now?
A: “I took a break, for about two months because my parents wanted me to focus on my college applications and everything and get that done, but I’m going to start resuming in January.”
Q: What is the best part about flying?
A: “Definitely just being up in the air. You know how you have those flying dreams and you’re just free and you’re happy? It’s like that, and I love feeling that feeling. And it’s also the feeling of ‘I’m still in control.’ I wish I could feel the wind on my face but I can’t because I’m pretty high up in the air. So, it’s definitely just that freeing feeling. I’m able to take myself anywhere. I can take other people with me, so once I officially get my license I can take family members. And I just love that feeling of, ‘This is my journey, I’m in control, and I’m free.’ I love that.”
It’s not often someone shares that special connection with their career as Goldberg does with flying. As she told The Paw Print, it was her grandfather’s journey that inspired her to take on the ambitious skill of flight, which she will continue with diligence and excitement.