Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Learn to fly with Vanderbilt AviaDORES: New student organization to offer prospective members flying experience

If you’re older than 14 years old and in good health, you can fly a plane at the AviaDORES “Discovery Day” on Feb. 28. 

AviaDORES was formed by president Jack Murphy, vice president Alexa Cordell and treasurer Riley Ferguson, three first-years who met through the Class of 2019 Facebook group over the summer because of their experience and interest in flying planes. When the trio arrived on campus, they met up to discuss how they could pursue their passion and decided to form a student organization to unite both current pilots and those interested in going through pilot training.

“We wanted to involve students who are interested in the aviation community, whether it be learning how to be a pilot, skydiving, anything related to aviation at all, engineering, aircraft maintenance,” Murphy said.

In her search for a faculty advisor, Ferguson found Phil Davis. As a professor in the school of engineering who also has his pilot’s license, Davis became an asset to the team, bringing connections and experience in the field of aviation. 

Twenty students, some experienced and some new to the field, attended an interest meeting the group organized in the fall, and the leaders began to organize what would become AviaDORES.

“I feel like a big misconception about our club is that you have to have some aviation background or experience at all, and that’s not at all the case,” Murphy said.

Before winter break, AviaDORES was approved and registered as an official student organization. This semester, the group participated in the spring organization fair and hosted another meeting with interested students. The group will host “Discovery Day” to get prospective members started on their journey to becoming pilots. After looking at several local airports, the club’s founding members decided to host the event at Murfreesboro airport.

“We’ve gone to airports in the area and feel most comfortable with the instructors there,” Murphy said.

A discovery flight, from which Discovery Day gets its name, is a person’s first flight in which the flight instructor carries out the critical parts of the flight, such as takeoff and landing, but allows you to get a feel for the plane and its controls, Murphy said.  While the process of obtaining a pilot’s license can be time-consuming and expensive, AviaDORES makes the process easier and cheaper, Murphy said. The organization plans on organizing trips to local airports for convenience, and Murfeesboro airport provides them with discounted group rates. While fly time is typically over $100 dollars an hour, the rate with AviaDORES, including for the first discovery flight this month, is only $60.

 Being a member of the organization provides a source of information and assistance throughout the process of obtaining a pilot’s license. While prospective pilots typically have to pay their instructor for their time if they have questions about their studying, the licensed members in AviaDORES are willing to provide their time and expertise free of charge.

“We love to talk about flying,” Murphy said. “We could literally talk about it for hours on end.” 

If you aren’t interested in flying a plane in February or don’t want to pay the $60, you can still attend the Discovery Day event and ride along in a plane for free. If you are thinking about participating in Discovery Day, there is a form available on Anchor Link to sign up. Even if you aren’t planning on getting your pilot’s license, the event will be an entertaining and informative experience, Murphy said. 

“Nothing beats a selfie at 3000 feet!” he added. 

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