Reaching New Heights

Reaching New Heights

Yuv Khosla ’17 left campus after graduation with more than just his diploma. He also has his private pilot’s license, which he began during his junior year.

The New Delhi native says he had a “love/hate” relationship with air travel until he took a scenic flight over Williamstown and the surrounding area his sophomore year. The experience led him to enroll in Teamflys, the flight school at Harriman-and-West Airport in North Adams.

“I made up my mind in November 2016 that I was going to conquer this fear,” he says.

He faced many obstacles on his way to obtaining his license. An economics and religion major, he already had a heavy academic workload. Without a driver’s license, let alone a car, he had to ride his bicycle to the airfield in all sorts of weather. And he had to log more than 40 flight hours of flight, after passing a FAA-approved medical exam and a rigorous a written exam to evaluate his proficiency in a wide array of subjects including aerodynamics, flight instruments, navigation, weather, communications, weight and balance, and FAA regulations. After showing competency in a variety of aerial maneuvers, such as take-offs and landings, stall recovery and 45-degree banked turns, Khosla was also required to fly both a 50-mile and a 150-mile solo flight and to complete flying tasks at night.

But the experience was “a great stressbuster,” Khosla says. “It was an outlet, like being a member of a sports team—you just find the time. Flying at Teamflys became a different part of my college identity and has been very comforting.”

Throughout the intensive training, Khosla found community in the instructors and other pilots who supported him. One especially memorable flight was with his flight instructor Shane Lamarre, on a lesson to fly in a fixed-wing, 150-hp. Cessna 172 from North Adams to the Albany International Airport in New York.

“I’ll always remember the feeling of landing at the Albany airport and having a huge airliner coming in behind me and realizing I was almost on the same level—a student at a college doing the same thing as a professional pilot of a large commercial aircraft,” Khosla says. “Even if I stuttered, we were both talking to air traffic control and getting instructions to land.”

Khosla, who attended an all-boys’ boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas, first learned about Williams from the daughter of his music teacher. The stories she shared about her college experience inspired him to travel 11,505 miles around the globe to attend.

As he returns home to New Delhi to join his father’s microfinance business, Khosla also plans to pursue higher levels of flight training. And, one day, he hopes of to start a commercial aviation business in India.

—Sue Mead