Senior Matt Hajek carried on a family tradition a few weeks ago by becoming the second Hajek sibling to earn his Private Pilot’s Certificate through Admiral Farragut Academy’s Aviation Program.
“He’s probably one of the most naturally gifted pilots that I’ve flown with,” said Aviation Program Director, Rob Ewing. “It comes easy to him. He works very hard, he’s very mature in the way that he does things, and it was easy in some senses for him. He’s really a natural pilot.”
“The flying part is the easiest,” Matt said. “To get your certificate you have to get 40 hours, and you need a certain amount of cross-country hours which is flying over 50 miles. The hard part is knowing things about the plane like if anything goes wrong and planning your cross-country route, which my teachers at Farragut definitely helped with that.”
Matt has taken aviation courses throughout his time at Farragut. He passed his private pilot written test last year, took Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University dual enrollment courses as a junior, and as a senior was in the Aviation Academy.
Although Matt has almost 70 hours worth of flight time and was eligible to take his check ride in February, it was postponed many times due to weather and scheduling. Finally on Friday, April 28, 2017 Matt took and passed his practical test at the Crystal River Airport with examiner Captain Tom Davis. That day he flew a Cessna 172P with tail number N5258Z.
“I love flying,” Matt says. “It’s awesome that at age 17, I can take people up in a plane and fly them wherever they want. It’s really cool.”
“It’s been a lot of fun flying with him,” said Mr. Ewing. “I’m very proud.”
Matt’s older brother Michael Hajek IV ‘15 also received his private pilot’s certificate his senior year. Michael currently attends the Citadel and is projected to graduate in 2019. Their dad, alumnus Michael Hajek III ‘80, is currently working on his private pilot’s certificate for the last few months as well.
“With my brother it’s like a competition,” Matt says. “Now that he’s been in college and hasn’t been flying as much, we’re at the same level, with the same amount of hours and the same certificates. He’s the reason I got into the aviation program, so I could catch up!”
Matt is attending Clemson University in the Fall and is majoring in Engineering. He wants to become either an automotive or an aeronautical engineer, but he isn’t giving up flying any time soon.
“I’m going for my instrument rating next,” Matt says, “and I might even go as far as my instructor license. It’d be nice to make money on the side teaching people to fly. I like to keep my options open.”