As senior Maddie Rogers flies a plane for one of the first few times with her flight instructor and uncle, Craig Sampson, during the summer, she begins to feel some nerves.
They ascend into the air, slowly growing further from the runway. As they are now 20 feet off of the ground, Rogers looks to her left and spots a bee just six inches away from her face, sitting on the window.
She immediately takes her hands off all of the controls and proceeds to move her face as far away from the bee as possible. Sampson has no choice but to fly the plane and deal with the pesky bee while Rogers fights for her life.
Little did she know that after this traumatizing experience, she would learn to love and continue practicing the art of flying airplanes.
For the past few months, Rogers has been training for numerous hours in a 1968 Piper PA-28 Cherokee 180, in order to get her hands on her very own pilot’s license, and also flying thousands of feet off the ground, seeing the world from a different perspective.
“The plane I train in is extremely reliable,” Rogers said. “It’s also easy to learn how to fly in it. Plus, it’s a pretty cool looking plane.”
Not only has Rogers practiced her flight training immensely during the summer, but she also took a trip to New York to begin her first serious flying lesson from Sampson, who flies corporate jets for a company based on Long Island.
“My uncle offered to give me my first lesson as a joke but I actually took him up on it,” Rogers said. “He was always encouraging and extremely patient with me during my primary flight training.”
She is currently working towards receiving her pilot’s license in order to fly planes. It is a lengthy process to become a pilot; one must pass a medical exam, certifying that you are physically and mentally able to pilot an airplane, and pass written and flying exams.
The process starts with a solo license, moving to a private pilot’s license, allowing her to fly with passengers without pay, then to a commercial license, giving her the ability to fly passengers for fare.
“As of now I hold 19 hours of flight time in my training,” Rogers said. “I have also been flying locally, such as, the Jacksonville/Palestine area, Mount Pleasant, and Gladewater. It has been awesome seeing how cool surrounding areas can look up in the air.”
The young pilot-in-training plans on attending Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark., to major in aviation science and become a professional pilot after graduation.
“I’m super excited for what’s to come for me after I graduate and start learning more about aviation at Henderson,” Rogers said. “I love that it only took one lesson with my uncle to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Rogers is the daughter of Kris and Matt Rogers.
Editor’s note: Portions of this story were edited by Bullard Banner News editor Micah McCartney.