Interview with Seosamh Somers, Angel City Flyers Founder

So what is Angel City Flyers?

Angel City Flyers is a flight training organization based in Long Beach, California. We train people from private pilot to jet type ratings.

Why did you choose to concentrate on STEM subjects?

STEM subjects provide a necessary launchpad for anybody who wishes to be part of building the future through technology. Ireland has a lot to gain from innovation in technology, and students who are strong in STEM subjects can drive those gains. Hopefully, Aerprize spotlights these subjects. 

What has aviation and specifically piloting an aircraft got to offer STEM?

Aviation and piloting in particular provide an immediate, tactile, firsthand experience of math and science applications. When you control a flying machine, your own biology can literally feel, see and hear the physics of flight in action. Chemical reactions produce propulsion, all governed by mathematical principles.

What is the relationship with the ISTA?

The ISTA is curating the competition on behalf of Angel City Flyers, which means that ISTA teacher members will sponsor the competition entrants, be the point of contact for the students, and assist in the final judging of the prize winners.

What do you have to do to enter the competition?

Entrants working in together in teams of three to four students will produce a 5 minute video on a specific task area appropriate to pilot training based on a STEM subject. The video will have two elements:

  1. A description of underlying principles in scientific detail
  2. Information required by a pilot to pass a technical knowledge exam

The top three teams will be chosen to attend a final selection phase in Feburary 2020. From those three teams, the two individual winners will be chosen and notified by April 3, 2020.

Can entrants choose any task area?

No. Entrants must select from these task areas

How are the videos submitted?

To submit your video to Aerprize, you will need to upload it to YouTube and send us the link via our online Application Form before the submission deadline of February 14, 2020.

It is important to note that Video Privacy Settings should be set to ‘Public’ so your video can be viewed by our judges and the general public. You can find lots of information in the YouTube Help Centre about privacy settingshow to upload videossupported file formats, etc.

Click the ‘Parental Consent received’ tickbox, to acknowledge that consent has been received for all participants, as outlined above. Completed consent forms do not need to be submitted to AERPRIZE, but to complete the application process you must acknowledge that, where required, they have been completed and received.

Click the ‘Agree to Terms & Conditions’ tickbox, to acknowledge that you have read and agree to the Aerprize competition Terms and Conditions.

After you click submit, you should receive an acknowledgment and a confirmation email to the address provided. After the competition, all participants will receive a Certificate of Participation to download and print issued by Angel City Flyers.

Winning videos will be announced on April 3, 2020.

What criteria will be used to judge the competition?

  • Accuracy
  • Production quality
  • Entertainment value
  • Clarity
  • Stickiness (how well people who view the video will recall the info)

What will the final selection interview consist of?

During the interview, entrants will complete objective tasks and exercises that test hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and aviation-related aptitude.  This will include training in a Boing 737 flight simulator. The interview will last four hours, and take place at the Aer Corps facility at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonneel, Dublin, Ireland.

Who will judge the competition?

Four judges, including representatives from ISTA, Angel City Flyers and Aer Corps will make the final selection.

When is the competition deadline?

February 14, 2020

Who can enter the Aerprize competition?

To enter, you must:

How difficult is a Class 3 aviation medical?

A Class 3 aviation medical is very straightforward and requires good general health.

Two winners will receive all-paid pilot certification training in the United States by Angel City Flyers.  What preparations will the winners need to make prior to traveling to the U.S.?

The only necessary preparations will be to apply for the FAA medical, which will be conducted in Dublin, the arrangement of student visas, and United States TSA approval paperwork. Angel City Flyers staff will direct and assist the winners in completing these preparations.

What does the prize include?

  • FAA medical exam
  • Student visa processing
  • TSA paperwork approval
  • Round-trip flight from Dublin to Los Angeles
  • Accommodation in Long Beach
  • Ground instruction
  • Flight instruction
  • Knowledge test and flight test fees
  • Books and materials

What is not included in the prize?

  • Travel in Ireland related to the prize
  • Travel insurance in the U.S.
  • Spending money and meals in the U.S.

What is the training timetable?

  • July 3, 2020: Depart Dublin for Los Angeles
  • August 14, 2020: Return to Dublin
  • Training schedule: 5-1/2 days per week for six weeks

What exams are required to get a pilot’s license?

There is one computer-based knowledge test covering all theoretical subject areas. There is also a practical test at the end of the course with an FAA examiner, which includes oral and practical elements. The oral portion normally takes approximately two hours, and the flight portion generally takes 1.5 hours.

What are the accommodations in Long Beach?

Accommodations will be provided by local Long Beach families who are vetted by Angel City Flyers. Pickup and drop-off will be provided by Angel City Flyers each training day. 

What are the stages in obtaining a pilot’s license?

  1. Aircraft maneuvering skills development
  2. Safety procedures
  3. Knowledge test completion
  5. Cross-country flight training (more than 50 miles)
  7. Night flying, flying by reference to instruments
  8. Flight test preparation

What happens to the videos that are entered in the Aerprize competition?

All the videos entered in the competition will be posted on the Aerprize website for three months after the competition closes. The best videos in each category will remain on the site and be used to help pilots in training all over the world. Every year the best videos will be uploaded permanently to create an evolving library of training information. All videos submitted become the property of Angel City Flyers, and must consist of original material. 

How often will the Aerprize competition occur?

Every two years.

Why have you chosen to sponsor Aerprize?

I am the product of an Irish secondary education. I know if I had had the chance to get such a prize, the opportunity would have turbocharged my efforts in science and maths. After I received an excellent education in Ireland and then further education in the EU, I chose to make my living in the USA. Aerprize is partly a way of paying something back for my great learning experience.