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Flight Student Obtains Pilot's License in 9 Days

"Matt Shifrin" Pads His Checkride In Only 9 Days

Obtaining a pilot's license through aviation school can take from six months to a year, according to John Amundsen of Tailwheels Etc. Flight School.

One of their flight students, Matthew "Matt" Shifrin, did it in nine days.

Tailwheels Etc. flight School offers an accelerated two-week course, pioneered by John Amundsen and his son Jonathan Amundsen said. After a written test is passed, the student must complete 40 hours of flight time.

At that point, the student learns certain maneuvers and skills, such as takeoffs, landings, emergency procedures and cross-country planning, according to his flight instructor .

His flight instructor, a Massachusetts native, said Tailwheels Etc. is an "exceptionally good school" and the program is designed for the student to "eat and sleep it for two weeks."

Private Pilot Matt Shifrin

"The course is 14 days long and Shifrin took his check ride in a Piper Warrior plane on Wednesday, the ninth day", the instructor said.

The check ride was taken with an examiner and was the final test in Shifrin's quest to obtain his private pilot's license. Out of the nearly 300 students the Asst. Chief Flight Instructor has signed off on, two have really excelled, with Shifrin being the second.

The check ride consists of one to two hours of oral and then flight time. Matt Shifrin is dedicated and is equally dedicated to his country.

Shifrin is a captain in the U.S. Army and has just returned after two and a half tours in Iraq, "32 or 33 months total", he said.

Shifrin is part of the Military Police Brigade (Airborne) and lives in Fort Bragg, N.C. He said he looked for flight schools while he was in Iraq and concentrated his search in Florida because of the warm winter weather.

Amundsen said he communicated with Shifrin several times via e-mail or over the phone, which Shifrin would have to get up in the middle of the night to make because of the time difference.

"We've never had anybody do it (complete flight training) in 10 days," Amundsen said.

The previous record of 12 days was held by a man who already had experience with navigation and flight lingo.

After Shifrin's flight instructor joined the school,, he said training could not be done in two weeks. But after checking the flight log, his instructor said Shifrin actually did it in eight days, since one day was foggy.

"You've got to work for it," Shifrin said, "it was hard. It was a lot. It was like drinking from a fire hose."

The new private pilot said that he approached the training like a job. Some of his previous experience was helpful. For Example, some of the acronyms used in the military also are used in flying planes.

Regarding his flight instructor, Shifrin described him as "old and salty - in a good way."

Mehdi Delshad, another instructor at the local airport, said Shifrin made all the flight instructors look good, through the soldier's devotion and discipline came from his military training.

"As far as students, he's in the top five," said Chuck Brown, who served as Shifrin's check ride examiner. "One of my top five check rides."

Brown has been giving check rides since 1989 and has been a pilot since 1973. Brown even took Shifrin above and beyond the FAA requires for its Practical Test Standards, the minimum pilot requirements.

A commercial pilot for DHL, Brown said it was obvious Shifrin "took command of the situation."

After padding the check ride Wednesday, Brown said Shifrin is now a private pilot for a single-engine aircraft and can carry passengers. His next step could be tailwheel training and, later on, possibly instructing others on the weekends.

As for getting a plane of his own, Shifrin said this is still under negotiation with his wife, Kristin, who is also a captain in the Army.

"I have plans. She Doesn't," he said.

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