DBHS Student Cleared for Takeoff

Samyuktha Vellaiyan, Staff Writer

With months of flight training under his belt and recently receiving his pilot’s license, Diamond Bar High School junior Toby Kim grabs his handheld transceiver, dons his headset and fastens his seatbelt, as he steps away from the passenger seat and into the pilot’s seat, preparing for take off.

As his father is a pilot, Kim had no hesitation in following his footsteps. Kim started ground school training, knowledge-based training for pilots, at age 15 in the Korean American Airmen Association, a field airport owned by his father in La Verne. He learned about aerospace, how to react during emergency situations and how to fly in different weather conditions.

He said that the best preparation was training on the simulator, a machine on the ground that contains all the components of an airplane.

“Learning to fly a plane is definitely an experience I will never forget because it is one of my favorite things to do in my pastime and is something I really love doing,” Kim said.

After four months of ground training, Kim was confident enough to take his skills to the sky. In Sept. 2017, Kim began flight training with his instructor, piecing all his ground training skills together. It was not long until he became comfortable flying the aircraft himself.

“I had a lot of practice with my instructor before I did my first solo flight, but it was more fun than scary because I didn’t have an instructor to look over my shoulder every second of my flight, who would comment on every minor error,” Kim said.

After a long process of training, Kim finally received his licence near the end of last December.

“I was excited that I got my license, but there is not much I can do because it’s not something I need daily like a drivers license, which I don’t have yet,” Kim said. “I can still fly to other airports, but I don’t need it as often. It will probably be useful when I go to archery competitions, which are out of state. I don’t need to buy my own airline ticket when I can just fly there.”

Kim finds landing the plane to be the most enthralling part of his piloting experience. Though landing is one of the most dangerous and difficult parts of piloting, Kim finds the difficulty to be “the most exciting part about it.”

With time-consuming activities, such as piloting and archery, Kim finds it difficult to manage his time. He spends two to three hours everyday training during the summer and three to four hours in the weekends during the school year.

“I wish the days were longer because I don’t have time to fit all my activities into one day,” Kim said.