EMU Lancaster aviation student Cole Shontz earns Private Pilot rating

To read more profiles of student-pilots, visit https://emu.edu/now/news/category/academics/emu-at-lancaster/

Cole Shontz, of Manheim, Pa, has been around aviation his whole life. His grandfather was a pilot, and being in the air has been his dream since a young age.

“Here I am today, making that dream a reality,” Shontz says. “As long as I can remember, the sky and the clouds have always amazed me. Together, they looked like a land of their own and I wanted to be a part of it.”

After graduation, he hopes to start agricultural flying, such as crop dusting. “Starting off with that will make a good segue into my final goal of becoming an aerial firefighter,” he says. Shontz has completed his check ride and now holds his private pilot’s license, a significant step on his journey.

He is a student in EMU Lancaster’s leadership and organizational management (LOM) program with a concentration in aviation. By the completion of the four-year program, graduates have a four-year degree and several flight certifications.

Shontz shares more about his experiences in the program below:

What interests you about aviation? What led to you pursuing this career path?

What interests me the most about aviation is the feeling of being able to fly and view the world from a top-down perspective. Not only that, but being at the controls of the machine that makes it possible is just mind-boggling as I think more about it. What really sparked my interest was a video game I used to play where I was able to take control of an airplane. Ever since then I wanted to make it my career. 

What was your first solo experience like? Anything like you expected?

My first solo experience was nerve-wracking all the way up until I got in the plane by myself. After that point and especially once I became airborne, it was exhilarating and one of the best experiences in my life.

What was it like to pass your private pilot check ride?

It took me a minute to realize, but it came to me that I was a pilot now. All the training and hard work I put in paid off as I completed the first step of my journey. At this point, I couldn’t have felt happier.

Did you do anything special to celebrate after your successful check ride?

Passing my check ride was definitely exciting, but I knew there was much ahead of me that would be more of a challenge than my private, so I knew I couldn’t celebrate yet. I congratulated myself and moved on to my next step.

Why did you choose EMU? 

EMU was the most convenient option as I could go to school without having to spend more money than I had to on room and board. What also caught my attention for EMU was the number of instructors with a significant amount of background in aviation, whether that be in the military, airlines, or extensive education in something related. 

What have you most enjoyed about the program so far?

I have enjoyed every bit of my education so far. All of the classes have been really interesting as they all pretty much have to relate to aviation. The flying portion also has no shortage of fun and challenges to overcome which gets me invigorated to fly each of my lessons, which are several times a week.