By Ryan Browne ’20
How does it feel to be up in the air, soaring above the clouds, free as a bird? One PLU student told his story about becoming a pilot.
Carson Bergstrom is a first-year living in Stuen Hall at Pacific Lutheran University, and is currently 19 years old. He is a Chemistry major with an emphasis on Bio-Chemistry and a Scandinavian Area Studies minor. He is a class of 2020 senator for the Associated Students of Pacific Lutheran University. And, oh yeah, he is a pilot.
Bergstrom has had planes around him his entire life. Both his father and his grandfather are pilots and he’s grown up flying. His family owns a general aviation business, and he has worked at Pasco Airport over the summer for years as a mechanic, janitor and aerial photographer.
Flying has always been an aspiration to Bergstrom, and in 2015, he began working toward that aspiration. He began his flight training in ground school in 2015. The ground school lasted 3 months which he did over that summer where he learned the rules of the sky, and how to be a pilot without being in a plane. During his time in ground school, he began his lessons in the air, and 42 hours of flying with an instructor, he passed his pilot’s license test in August of 2016 and became a certified pilot.
Now, Bergstrom cannot just fly any plane he wants. His license is only valid for single engine planes such as the Cessna 172, a small, four-seat propeller plane suitable for shorter trips. He plans on getting further endorsements to fly faster and higher performance planes such as a Beech Bonanza, a six-seat high-performance single engine plane. Although only able to fly smaller planes such as the 172, he has no restrictions on how far he can travel. He can travel across country if he so chooses and the plane fuel tank allows it. He has flown as far as Lewiston, Idaho, and plans on making longer trips in the future.
Flying is not all fun and games, as there is real danger in piloting. Bergstrom recalled his most terrifying experience while flying happened during his training. It was his second in-air lesson, and the instructor was a less experienced pilot. They were practicing emergency descents, and the instructor cut the power to the engine to simulate something going wrong. However, the instructor forgot to turn on the carburetor heat to keep it from freezing in the descent, and when the instructor went to turn the engine back on, the engine would not reengage. After a few tries and turning the carburetor heat on, the engine did eventually get back on.
“Oh man, it was terrifying,” Bergstrom said. “[The instructor] turned to me and he was terrified.”
Despite the danger, the feeling of flying changes a person’s viewpoint on life, as it did to Bergstrom.
“I just feel really free,” Bergstrom said. “There’s something just about it, going up and looking down on everything and being like ‘wow my problems are so small.’ It’s just one of the most freeing experiences.”
Bergstrom plans to keep flying as long as he can, mostly for recreation or summer jobs. He also mentioned how fun it is to take friends up and take them places for adventures.
Through Carson Bergstrom we can see how diverse the PLU community can be. We each have our own special aspects about us and we each have something to offer to the community. For Bergstrom, his offering is his viewpoint on life from the skies above.