Find them in the Sky

Soaring over Santa Monica among the clouds, with an ocean beneath, is but a dream for most people. This dream to fly, however, is reality for Ryan Ashley ’09 and Daniel Barsky ’08.
When Ashley was 5 and Barsky was 2 years old, they fell in love with planes and the idea of flying.

“I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t looking at planes and flying flight simulators,” Ashley said. “I was a 6-year-old kid flying Microsoft Flight Simulator.”

Their childhood passion has resulted in taking flight lessons at the Santa Monica airport, so that they will eventually be able take to the skies with private pilot licenses. But though they are pursuing the same type of flight license, they plan to do very different things in the field of flight.

Ashley also has an interest in political science, and wants to eventually enlist in the Air Force. Leadership experience is one of Ashley’s main priorities because after his military career, he wants to work in politics as a governor, senator or congressman.

“Air Force provides leadership training and experience that politics requires beyond what a college education can provide,” Ashley said. “It’s the best form of experience for me to prepare for a public job.”

Ashley has begun his training for the Air Force by working in the California Wing Cadet Program. As First Sergeant, Ashley leads a six person squadron in military drills. He is in charge of meetings, practicing military drills, organizing trips, or teaching classes like how to work a communications radio.

Barsky, however, does not plan to fly professionally and instead wants to pursue his own philanthropic flying project.

“I want to fly more as a hobby and do it as a community service, providing humanitarian aid,” Barsky said.

Barsky’s desire to use flight for philanthropic means resulted in his creating a non-profit organization, Hope Air. The organization is in the process of being created and its business plan has been submitted to Los Angeles Public Counsel. As a 9-year-old, Barsky suffered from a complication of lyme disease and doctors from all over the country visited him to try and treat him. From then, he decided that he wanted to make medical resources available to as many as possible.

“I saw other kids in the hospital who were much more severely ill, terminally ill, really, and it made me realize I have to be involved in that sphere,” Barsky said.

Hope Air would provide air transport to those living in rural areas so they could receive special medical care.

Barsky will attend Washington University in St. Louis next year, but plans to base the company in Los Angeles. In college, Ashley plans to participate in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, an elective offered at most colleges, and with this training he will be able to enter the Air Force after college.

The program will train him and give him the leadership experience which will hopefully help him in the field of politics, Ashley said.

The experience from ROTC, though helpful for his political ambitions, however, did not motivate Ashley to learn how to fly. For Ashley, the desire to learn how to fly was motivated by a pure passion for flying. And although he plans to create something from flying, he insists that political edge was not his initial goal.

“I didn’t start flying for an advantage in politics,” Ashley said. “But it is something I get out of it, and I love flying. So, why not?”

Barsky also said it was purely his love of flight that motivated him to first get up in the air.

“There are a lot of other ways I could help people than with flying,” said Barsky. “After I decided that flying is my passion I realized that instead of just using it for myself I should use it to benefit other people.”