Robert Pinksten: 17 and two ratings

My name is Robert Pinksten and I’m a dual rated 17 year old pilot. I achieved my PPL Helicopter on my 17th birthday, and my PPL fixed wing just a short time after.

I have always been in love with aviation, in particular helicopters. When I was 15, during my sophomore year in high school I was assigned a job shadow project. Naturally I elected to try and find a pilot, and my mother who is an aviation insurance agent helped me. On the day of the shadow, I arrived at the airport and then climbed aboard a Robinson R44 with Bob Cloutier, owner of C-R Helicopters in Nashua, NH and his student. We flew around New Hampshire for about an hour in a scenic and enjoyable flight. When returning back to the airport, the part that really pushed me in to deciding I wanted to start training was Bob saying “lets do some autos” to his student and rolling the throttle off. I had a general sense of what autorotation was, in theory that is. But I didn’t really know the feeling of actually doing them, and it was exhilarating. After about 4 power recovery autorotations and a similar amount of hovering autorotations we landed and I was convinced I wanted to be a Helicopter pilot, I was also nauseous but that not what this story is about.

At the time of my intro flight I probably had 400 hours flying helicopters in Simulators, which I believe helped me just a little. I flew straight and level without any issue, and hovered not terribly for an intro student. I can safely say I definitely got the aviation bug at that point.

Around five months and 20.1 hours of dual in the R22 later I soloed and had some attention from media due to the crowd funding I used to get there.

It was a happy day, until I realized afterwards that I have around 25 more hours of training and an entire year before I can get my private license. I flew infrequently for a while and decided I’d like to take an intro flight in an airplane. I went up for 45 minutes in a Cessna 152 and wasn’t surprised at the ease of flying a fixed wing aircraft. I soloed the 152 after 8.6 hours and proceeded with my private training.

Throughout my training I was blessed with opportunities to fly amazing aircraft all over the country. I’ve flown a Bell 206L in Virginia, a Stearman in Florida, a T-6 Texan, Bell 47 and more and I love learning new things about new aircraft!

The most difficult part about getting both licenses was proceeding month and a half before checkride day. Due to weather and the fact that I hadn’t planned out the requirements as well as I should’ve to where I was flying everyday and then coming home and studying all night. On two occasions in late june(checkride 1 was on July 2nd, my birthday) I had flown around five hours in a day.

My checkrides both went smoothly and were uneventful (minus almost entering IMC on both of them) and I have been enjoying my licenses since!

I’ve been flying cool aircraft and writing aviation news stories!


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