Aviation Summer Intern Wanted

for Philip Greenspun, updated August 2010

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My Summer 2010 intern just completed her helicopter rating (video) and is returning home to Michigan soon. That means this job is open once again.

Have you always dreamed of earning a pilot's license? Are you considering a career in aviation? This is an opportunity to spend a summer learning if the world of aviation is for you. This internship is designed for one of 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 3-12 months and could be done during the summer of 2011, for example.

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 own an airplane and two helicopters, fly almost every day, and have airplane flight instructor (single- and multi-engine), airplane instrument instructor, and helicopter instructor ratings. Many of my friends own aircraft as well and some are flight instructors. I can make sure that, if you stick with me for the summer, you will build at least 40 hours of loggable time in helicopters and airplanes.

If you are applying for this internship on the basis of your video skills, your primary job will be producing a series of tutorial videos. By the end of three months, we'd like to have approximately 50 videos completed. 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:

We would expect your work to be higher quality than these.

Your second job is ground support for flight training 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 (2007 Infiniti M35x; a four-door sedan as fast as a Ferrari 348, so don't get any speeding tickets!). 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's license, 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 some instruction in those areas as well.

About Me

I am 45 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 2010, I have approximately 3500 hours of total time. Currently, I hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with single-engine land, multi-engine land, and rotorcraft-helicopter ratings. 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 done 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.

Video Production Tools

We have the following tools for video production:

About You

Here are the characteristics that I think will make for a successful internship:

A Typical Day

We meet either at at Hanscom Field at 7:00 am. I give a 7:00 am helicopter flying lesson. You do ground school or some video editing. 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, to take a walk or ride a mountain bike in the adjacent woods (250 acres), and then do video editing. At 4:00 pm, we may go back to the airport and I'll give a lesson to a customer while you capture video from the back seat or capture video while another instructor teaches a ground lesson. We should finish the day by 7:00 pm.

If I am busy, you may go to the airport and fly with one of the other instructors or fly solo if you've been signed off. You'll do production with other instructors and editing on your own.

A Typical Month

We go to the airport on all of the good-weather days, which means 4-5 days per week. Once every month, I will go on a 4-7-day trip with an instrument student or just to visit friends. In some cases, you might come along on one of these trips.

On at least 5 days per month you'll do some work that is only loosely related to the flight school, organizing a social event or helping organize stuff around the house.

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.

Where You'll be After Three Months

After three months, even if you have not done any flight training before, you will have a good understanding of recreational and commercial aviation in both helicopters and airplanes. You'll be about halfway toward getting your private pilot's license, perhaps further if you study hard and turn out to be a quick learner.

How to Apply

To demonstrate your ability with video, submit an application by emailing philg@mit.edu the URL of a video application. The video should include the following: a bit about yourself; you with a dog; why you're interested in aviation; two references (interviews with teachers or mentors saying good things about you). You're the video expert, but 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.

Longer-Term Internships

I am considering offering a four-year internship to a person who is ready to begin an undergraduate program in "aviation science". The intern would do the bachelor's degree online with Utah Valley University and the flight training with me, as well as learning computer science and photography. I would pay for all living expenses, tuition, and flight training. The intern would graduate with no debt and ready to work at an airline.
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