Spring Hill College’s own Caroline Cusick had her hard work pay off when she earned her private pilot’s license on Jan. 31, 2018. The junior decided over a year ago that she wanted to pursue a career as a pilot, and has been taking instruction ever since. The newly licensed Cusick has already flown from Huntsville to Tullahoma and from Mobile to Gulfport by herself, but she doesn’t plan on stopping there.
Cusick decided at the beginning of her sophomore year that the pilot’s life was one for herself. Her dad was in the Navy and deployed with the Marines as a flight surgeon, so growing up flying was a big part of her life. After seeing the Miracle on the Hudson event on the news at 12 years old, she knew she wanted to have something to do with aviation. Cusick attended Space Camp as a child, and after returning as a counselor, she began to grow interested in flying. Cusick added, “I told my dad I should be a flight attendant or something, and he said “Why be a flight attendant? Be a pilot.”
With the strong support of her family and friends, Cusick switched from nursing to business at Spring Hill, and is also pursuing the Part 61 aviation program. Her goal is to become either a flight instructor or a skydiving plane pilot, and with the strict Part 61 program, she is required to earn her private, instrument, commercial single-engine and commercial multi-engine licenses.
“Right now I have my private, and I for sure want to get my commercial multi-engine license,” Cusick says. Prior to getting started with her instructor, Caroline had to do some research to find the best way to be taught properly and safely. She looked into different flight schools in the Mobile area before she settled with her current club and instructor. “I ended up talking with an independent flight instructor, and he set me up with a club that gave me access to a plane,” Cusick explained. Her current flight instructor, Mike Wallace, explained that one needs to have a minimum of 40 hours to take the final exam, but most people have more. “The more you fly, the shorter it’ll take, but it’s different for everyone,” Wallace added.
Although she was very nervous while taking her final exam, Cusick didn’t let this stop her. She studied for two straight weeks for the three-component exam. After finally passing all of the tests and earning her private pilot’s license, Cusick says she feels a lot more driven and reassured. “I know I love this,” Caroline remarks, “…and after putting all of this time and effort and money into it, I’d do it all over again.”