Aviation Internship

working with Philip Greenspun at Fair Weather Flying, updated April 2012

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Are you considering a career in aviation? Interested in adding a helicopter rating to an existing pilot certificate? Love young children? This is an opportunity to build time and ratings while enjoying the company of a charming two-year-old (photos). The ideal candidate will have the following: The position is available any time that a person with the right skills and attitude wants to take it. Typically an internship lasts for 6-12 months and results in at least one certificate or rating (there have been four previous holders of this internship; all earned helicopter ratings, one is an instructor at our flight school, one flies helicopter tours at our school). By the end of the internship, you should be able to earn the title of Operations Manager for Fair Weather Flying.

What's Good About Aviation?

Flying offers unlimited challenge. You could spend years building up the skills that airline pilots use to get people from big airport to big airport safely. After mastering those skills, you could learn to fly a seaplane, a bush plane, a helicopter, an aerobatic plane.

Flying puts you into contact with some of the world's most interesting people. Commercial pilots are folks who've followed their dreams. Recreational pilots might be miserable when they're at their desk jobs, but you'll be seeing them at the airport where they are doing what they love. Pilots aren't afraid to take responsibility for their decisions. They tend not to sweat the small stuff.

If you want to learn about success in medicine or business, hanging around the airport is a great way to begin. The most common career backgrounds for airplane owners are doctor and self-made business founder and CEO. The doctors are often heads of departments at major hospitals or operators of their own practices and clinics. These guys went from nothing to earning enough money to buy and operate a $1 million airplane. They didn't get there with dumb luck or family connections. Most of these folks wouldn't have time to spare if you asked them to spend a day educating you. But if you said "I'm also a pilot; can we spend a day together practicing instrument approaches?" the response is likely to be much more enthusiastic.

The Internship in Brief

I manage Fair Weather Flying, a business that owns an airplane and two helicopters and has an FAA Air Carrier certificate for helicopter charters. I have airplane flight instructor (single- and multi-engine), airplane instrument instructor, and helicopter instructor ratings (details). Many of my friends own aircraft as well and some are flight instructors. I can make sure that you will build at least 160 hours per year of loggable time in helicopters and airplanes.

The most critical part of your job will be providing occasional child care for Greta, a smart lively good-natured 2.5-year-old (photos). I like to spend as much time with Greta as possible, so if I'm flying a 30-minute Boston tour, I need you to keep her entertained on the ground until I return. You won't be Greta's primary caregiver; she is an only child with two parents and a three day/week daycare schedule. However, you may be needed as an extra hand if we travel somewhere with Greta and also may be required to provide child care for up to a few hours at a time. Previous child care experience and references are a must.

Your second job is ground support for flight training and charter activities. You will do flight planning, fuel planning, get relevant weather reports from the FAA, brief passengers for helicopter rides, keep track of the schedule for student and personal flights, keep the GPS databases in the Cirrus and Robinsons up to date, keep the aircraft clean, stock the fridge for the mechanics, make sure that the dog is not bored (a Border Collie), shuttle students around in your car or mine. You will learn about compliance with FAA regulations. I will provide all necessary training so that you can accomplish these tasks.

What do you get in return? Flight and ground training toward your pilot ratings, both airplane and helicopter. When we don't have paying customers, we will go up together and work on your flying skills. On the ground, you will have access to a complete library of flight training materials and books, plus wireless Internet access. At the airport, you will also be surrounded by expert flight instructors and pilots who can answer most of your questions. On rainy days, I can provide some structured ground school training to supplement what you're getting from the books. If you're interested in computer science or photography, I can provide instruction and projects in those areas as well.

Video Tutorials

If you are passionate about videography and video editing, I have a back-burner project of producing a series of tutorial videos. An example of a video would be a 20-minute lecture or interaction following a ground lesson plan within our Private pilot syllabus. We've produced a few experiments already: I have high-definition camcorders and Adobe Premiere all set up and ready to use if you are interested.

About Me

I am 48 years old and live in suburban Boston, a 15-minute drive from Hanscom Field. In 2001, I retired from a 23-year career as a software engineer and began flight training. As of 2012, I have nearly 4000 hours of total time. Currently, I hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with single-engine land, multi-engine land, and rotorcraft-helicopter ratings, plus two type ratings for jets. I have a single-engine sea rating at the Commercial level. I hold a Flight Instructor certificate with airplane single-engine, airplane multi-engine, instrument airplane, instrument helicopter, and rotorcraft-helicopter ratings. I have more light aircraft cross-country experience than most people at my level, having traveled Boston-to-Alaska-and-back a couple of times in single-engine planes and Los Angeles-to-Boston several times in Robinson helicopters. I have flown 50-seat regional jets for a Delta Airlines subsidiary.

I have a lot of experience with photography, both film and digital, and have a better collection of photographic equipment than most professional photographers. I have taught photography to college students.

I have a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from M.I.T. and experience teaching EECS subjects at M.I.T.

I enjoy teaching and spending time with young people for whom my advice and/or the skills that I teach might make a difference for their future.

About You

In addition to the items at the top, here are the characteristics that I think will make for a successful internship:

A Typical Day

If on one of Greta's daycare days or when she is with her mother, we meet at Hanscom Field at 7:00 am (you get there earlier and work with the student to preflight and push the helicopter out). I give a 7:00 am helicopter flying lesson. You work on ground study or, sometimes, ride back seat. If nobody has booked a lesson, at 10:00 we leave the dog on the ground and go up in an airplane or helicopter. We return to my house at 1 pm for lunch and some work in the yard (5 acres) or around the house. At 4:00 pm, we may go back to the airport. We should finish the day by 7:00 pm.

If I am busy with a software consulting project, you may go to the airport and fly with one of the other instructors or fly solo if you've been signed off.

For the days when I have Greta, we might fly somewhere in an airplane or helicopter to visit a friend, a museum, or the beach. Greta will ride in the back in a car seat (she is an enthusiastic flyer who had her first helicopter ride at about two months of age). If she needs assistance with her headset, sippy cup, or whatever, one of us will be on the controls while the other helps her. If we don't go flying, I might ask you to serve as an extra hand in taking Greta on a land-based excursion. I like to have dinner with Greta and put her to bed, but I might ask you to babysit for a few hours afterwards.

You will be working hard and won't be able to have any other summer employment.

Who Pays for What

I pay for the following items: Previous interns have earned bonus checks of $750 or $1000 upon completion of various projects.

How to Apply

Please send me a cover letter and resume via email to philg@mit.edu.

If you'd like to demonstrate your ability to communicate with video, feel free to email philg@mit.edu the URL of a video application. The video should include some of the following: a bit about yourself; you with a kid; you with a dog; why you're interested in aviation; two references (interviews with teachers or mentors saying good things about you). I would think that five minutes would be the maximum reasonable length.

Foreign Applicants

If you are not a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, it has become difficult, since the attacks of September 11, 2001, to do flight training in the U.S. You would need to have some legal basis for being in the U.S. before applying for this internship.