PV student spreads his wings


Rian O'Hanlon

Rian O'Hanlon poses next to a Piper Archer II, the aircraft he plans to fly over the summer.

Rishab Verma, Photo manager

As the school year’s end nears, many students are planning what their summer will hold. Whether it is travel, summer camps, or even a job, there are many popular options to choose from. One PV student, however, will take to the skies.

Rian O’Hanlon is a senior who has developed a unique passion over the past few years: aviation. Throughout high school, he has spent time in various activities such as cross country or computer science, but his main focus and one of his proudest achievements is completing the training necessary to be able to fly.

His first encounter with planes came courtesy of his stepdad. “I first got involved in aviation because my stepdad is a commercial pilot. He flies 747s for Atlas Airlines,” he said. This passion for flight spread to O’Hanlon, and he soon found himself in a cockpit.

Given that the average age of pilots in the United States is almost 45 years of age, it is a unique feat to learn to fly as a highschool student.O’Hanlon has this opportunity due to his stepdad’s involvement in “a non-profit organization called the Civil Air Patrol, which is also an Air Force Auxiliary.”

The Civil Air Patrol’s main purpose is to engage civilian pilots and aviators in homeland disaster relief, but the organization also strives to influence education. By promoting STEM among the youth, the Civil Air Patrol intends to build a strong volunteer network of aviation experts.

This education has enabled O’Hanlon to get his student license and start practicing the art of flight. O’Hanlon hopes to get his full license this summer, which requires countless hours of training.

O’Hanlon described the next steps in the process to get a license. “You have to go to this government agency, and you and your instructor have to sign off and do all this paperwork to be able to get your license,” he said. “But once you get that license, essentially what it says is that your instructor is allowed to let you fly solo.”

With more time and clearer skies during the summer, O’Hanlon will be able to commit more hours to honing his craft. Experience as a pilot directly correlates with the amount of hours one spends in the air, and each of those hours teaches one more and more about the life of a pilot.

One of O’Hanlon’s goals this summer is to participate in his own trip for what pilots call a ‘hundred-dollar hamburger’. “If a pilot has a weekend or a Friday night where there’s nothing in the house, why not hop in the plane and fly to Wisconsin to get a hamburger? That’s the hundred-dollar hamburger,” he explained.

The uniqueness of aviation and the culture surrounding it are what drew O’Hanlon to it. Amidst the many things students can occupy themselves with over the summer, O’Hanlon has found an unorthodox activity. This activity, however, is one which he has even considered making a career out of.

There are many different things that students can find themselves doing over the summer, but it is inevitable that they will be left with extra time. Like O’Hanlon, it may not be a bad idea to explore a new or unique interest. A new hobby could end up changing their life.