Jonathan Learns How to Fly

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At Touch A Life, we pride ourselves on developing customized holistic care plans for each child, and this includes knowing what each of our children hope to be when they grow up. Jonathan is one of our college students, and from a very young age he has always expressed an interest in learning to become a pilot. When we discovered that one of our cherished supporters and volunteers, Brad White, was a pilot, it seemed like a match made in heaven! Brad has traveled to Ghana on service trips several times, so he and Jonathan have been able to form a relationship over the years. Brad and Jonathan connected over the past couple of months to participate in some online aviation courses to help Jonathan take the necessary steps towards building a career as a pilot. Read on to hear about this exciting opportunity — thank you, Brad, for sharing your expertise and this special story!

I am a former pilot for the military and a current 737 International Captain with American Airlines. Jonathan and I converse frequently about flying and the careers available in aviation. It’s fun, too, because our son Griffin, who is almost 15 years old, has growing enthusiasm for flying.

Frequently on my flying trips, I’ll send pictures to Jonathan of something thought-worthy, which is my personal attempt to keep him inspired. It may be a picture of the cockpit technology, an in-flight view of threatening weather, or perhaps a touristy photo of places of interest. Jonathan always engages and enthusiastically asks to keep the images coming.

With Griffin and Jonathan both interested in flying, a unique opportunity came about in our COVID-19 world this summer. Noting the incredible decline of pilot students around the world, a West Coast-based company, Checkride Prep, offered an unprecedented free private pilot ground school course. Griffin and Jonathan both accepted and trained together virtually, as they were 6,400 miles apart in reality. The training is quite rigorous — classes last three and a half hours per night, three times a week, for four weeks. The full video training was 100% interactive with live instruction. While Jonathan could have replayed the video the next day in Ghana’s time zone, he stayed up all night so he could watch it live and interact with other students all over the world. Questions could be asked in the moment and concepts were demonstrated in real time with the help of movies, animation, and guest instructors. The courseware is advanced and the concepts are challenging: medical physiology, mathematical calculations of aircraft weight and balance, the science of weather — and of course, dynamics of flight along with engine mechanics. Afterwards, Jonathan, Griffin, and I conducted several Zoom sessions to answer questions and reinforce concepts.

The United States Airspace is governed by the FAA, and it complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization, so FAA ratings are recognized worldwide. The FAA requires the passing of a knowledge test plus being able to pass an oral test and a flight test with an FAA-licensed examiner, after accumulating a minimum of 40 flight hours. By working hard, both Jonathan and Griffin completed the ground school portion of flight training. They both received an endorsement/FAA authorization to take the subsequent FAA written knowledge test. Now they are both in a great position for successful flight training!

Jonathan has a long but exciting road ahead in his flying career. Our dream is to partner with Touch A Life to find a flying school that can embrace his proven talents and passion for flying. We’re proud to support Jonathan and hopeful that a path to his flight dreams will evolve as our worlds come together!

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