Steep Turns, Stalls and LA Scenery

Learning to fly is thrilling no matter where it happens, but Aerprize scholars Carmel Byrne and Conor Kennedy are experiencing extra excitement as they train with views of LA’s storied skyline and landmarks. Steep turns and stalls in the Diamond DA40 were part of this week’s flight training curriculum, with two flights each afternoon and early evening, an advantage of Southern California’s long summer days. There were practice takeoffs and landings at Hawthorne Municipal Airport (KHHR), John Wayne Airport (KSNA) and Van Nuys Airport (KVNY), where the famous opening scene from the classic movie Casablanca was filmed in 1942.


The flight over downtown LA provided an eagle-eye glimpse of the spire atop the 73-story Wilshire Grand Center, currently the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The student pilots also previewed the iconic Dodger Stadium from the sky, in advance of attending their first American baseball game next week when the Dodgers will take on the Milwaukee Brewers.

Conor and Carmel spent their mornings concentrating on ground school lessons as they prepare for their private pilot written exam. “Conor’s passion for aviation has been a great motivator,” says Jeremy Chavez, Conor’s flight instructor. Carmel’s instructor Karlie Isenhower adds, “Carmel already sounds completely professional when she’s talking to [the air traffic control] tower.”

The intensity of this week’s flight training was punctuated with a couple of breaks, one at Universal Studios where Conor and Carmel contemplated Harry Potter’s style of flying. On Thursday, Angel City Flyers celebrated St. Patrick’s Day early with an Irish-themed reception in the students’ honor.

Aerprize is sponsored by Aero City Group Inc. in Long Beach, California.