If anyone asks Truett Bloxsom, a senior at TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas, what he did during his summer vacation, he can say he mastered the aircraft that – like the bumblebee – is said to defy the physics of flight.
A year after Bloxsom began taking lessons with Alamo Helicopters at Stinson Airport in San Antonio, he had completed 40 hours of flight lessons, training in the Robinson R22 and the Robinson R44, light helicopters seating two and four respectively. For each hour in the air, there were two hours of ground school.
“It has to be something you really want to do,” Bloxsom says, referring to the lengthy process of learning to fly helicopters. “I had flown with my dad (Allan P. Bloxsom III, president of Fort Apache Energy Inc.) in his airplane and his helicopter, and I loved it.” Although learning to fly helicopters may be more demanding than fixed-wing aircraft (airplanes) — “You have to use both feet and both hands at the same time” – he prefers helicopters to planes for their agility and the wider view from their much larger windshields. “It’s like being a bird,” he says. “There’s so much glass (surrounding the cockpit), you can see everything. In airplanes, you fly a lot higher, above the clouds, and there’s not as much opportunity for sightseeing.”
Bloxsom started training in June 2012; he turned 17 – the age of eligibility for a rotor-wing pilot’s license – in January. “I wasn’t ready then,” he says. “I didn’t have enough flying hours.” Through the school year, he cut back to weekly, Saturday-morning lessons, so he could keep up with homework, play varsity tennis and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. He passed a written test as well as his check-out ride with an FAA-certified instructor June 5 in Houston, earning his private helicopter pilot certificate.
The most challenging part of his training was perfecting the landing process. “It’s seems simple,” he says. “You’re three feet above the ground. You’re floating down – and then you need to complete three steps that need to be synchronized in three seconds.”
Earning his license was only the beginning for this young pilot, who continues to train for his instrument rating and wants to qualify for an instructor’s license. Bloxsom plans to apply to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and to the University of Florida to study aeronautical/aerospace engineering.