Preparing for take-off

By Jean Park

Sedona, Arizona is known for its rocky, yet beautiful landscape. The cliffs cast a jagged shadow across the “Red Rocks” and many plateaus. While trail hikers and passing drivers must look up towards the top of the rocks, Courtney Hazy ’11 flies her Cesna 172 over canyons and mountaintops, overlooking all of Sedona. Contrasting the calm and scenic land outside, the inside of Hazy’s small propeller plane is noisy and chaotic.

“I was freaking out. The landing strip was on a plateau and I had to land with turbulent winds that were rocking the plane back and forth. The tower told me to make a smooth u-turn, which was difficult to pull off, and because the strip was very narrow, I had to make sure the plane was perfectly aligned,” recalled Hazy.

She explained that her body movements determine the plane’s movements as well, which made her anxious. A nervous and airsick Hazy kept focus and with a little help from her flight instructor, she landed safely onto the plateau.

Hazy began taking flight lessons at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as a 14 year old because her father and siblings encouraged her to try. Currently holding a student license, she hopes to move up to the highest rank and receive the private license, which allows pilots to fly anyone at anytime.

Hazy’s father, who began flying at 15, was always passionate about planes and has been flying for 53 years.

“The classes are a week long in the summer time and we would fly for an entire day. We’d also stop at different places in Arizona to get lunch,” explained Hazy.

Although flying as a hobby, is only a hobby, Hazy is a very devoted learner. She is only allowed to fly as far as Arizona and Utah, however, Hazy remembered a time when she and her father flew to Bora Bora in Tahiti, which is the farthest she has ever flown.

“A couple of years ago, when I first took off, I felt like everything was still new to me. I had to get full power and hit a certain speed before I got to the end of the runway. The throttle, which is the accelerator, got the plane to speed up very fast and even though I was scared at first, it was thrilling. When the plane lifted off the ground into the air, I was surprised, but also worried about changing the speeds,” said Hazy.

As an experienced pilot, Hazy will continue to advance into higher ranks, as she continues with more lessons and practice. Hazy explains that she is always a little intimidated because she is aware that a slight mistake can be severely damaging, but she claims that “it is worth it because it’s very fun and you get a feeling of freedom.”

Hazy hopes that she can someday fly her friends out for vacation in the future. As for holding a career as a pilot, Hazy laughed and said, “I’ll always fly just for the joy of it, not for making money.”