July 14, 2024

Perfect Pilot Training at St. Mary’s Airport

Pilot Training

There are few more perfect spaces to learn to fly, Piedmont Flight Center student Megan Deaton says of St. Mary’s County Regional Airport. But she hadn’t learned any of them the day of her Discovery Flight, when she was wondering if she might like to become a pilot.

“We hadn’t even taken off,” she says, “and I knew.” Her instructor Mark Boas, Piedmont’s chief flight instructor, grins, sitting across a small table of two other pilots and his student.

“You can do this,” she tells friends, scoffing at their excuses. “I’m afraid of heights. It isn’t like that.” She recommends they take a Discovery Flight and find out for themselves.

Photos by Megan Deaton
Breton Bay

Piedmont Flight Center offers 45-minute introductions to flying – to actually try it out, as much as you’re comfortable with trying, alongside a certified flight instructor. Or you can just go for a ride, explains David Stanton, the center’s new owner and an instructor as well.

Ken Reed of S. Hunt Aero, the development firm building the expanding airport facilities, and also a pilot, warned that a Discovery Flight will inspire the desire to be a pilot and from that moment on you will be addicted. “What did you think on your first solo?” he asks Ms. Deaton.

Ocean City Municipal Airport

“At first it still felt like someone was there. Then, wow, it’s just you. It’s so empowering,” she says. “It’s flying an airplane. You’re flying an airplane.”

The pilots at the table grin again. They believe, introducing flight to more people, will generate more pilots. They also agree, pilots quickly learn that flying can be an affordable hobby and provides cost-saving business and recreational traveling options; Ocean City’s airport, for example, is a 35-minute flight from St. Mary’s.

The Discovery Flights are among the instructional and rating services Piedmont offers. In addition to flight instruction for a Private Pilot license, Piedmont Center offers Instrument Rating, Ground School, and aircraft rentals. Piedmont also offers Flight Reviews for pilots and recently partnered with an AOPA Rusty Pilot instructional program at St. Mary’s Airport.

The Rusty Pilots is a program sponsored by AOPA to draw lapsed pilots back into active flying, including through refresher courses such as the one offered this month at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport. More than 50 pilots from the area attended, and in addition to bar-b-que for lunch, Piedmont offered discounted Flight Reviews to the Rusty Pilots at the day’s sessions.

A revival of interest in flying is beginning, says Mr. Reed. He sees the Patuxent River region, with its aviation legacy, as rich with pilots and Rusty Pilots, but also with those who may have worked with aviation, but perhaps never got a pilot’s license.

Cambridge, MD

The pilots and Ms. Deaton stress, getting the license can take as little as a few months, and affordable rentals are available from Piedmont to practice your new sport. Plus, emphasizes Ms. Deaton, St. Mary’s County Regional Airport is a perfectly located general aviation airport, for beginners as well as seasoned pilots.

St. Mary’s County Regional Airport is just outside the restricted airspace of the larger airports to the north. This provides a wide variety of learning opportunities, she explains. Plus, there are numerous other general airfields in the region, giving pilots interesting places to visit within a day or an overnight from St. Mary’s.

And the views above the Chesapeake, she says, are too beautiful to be believed.

These photos are all hers.

To see if flying is for you, or just to see what your house looks like from the air, contact Piedmont Flight Center to schedule a Discovery Flight. 240-718-8001; [email protected].

To learn more about opportunities at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport, 44174 Airport Road, California, MD 20619, contact Ken Reed ([email protected]) of S. Hunt Aero. To learn more about S. Hunt Aero, visit its Leader Member Page.

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