Isaac Crackel has Begun the Process Towards His Pilot’s License at Creve Coeur Airport


Credit to Ankita Pandurangi

Isaac Crackel gets into the cockpit of the plane he flies on Oct 3. Crackel started flying regularly in August of this year and has been taking lessons and flying at the Creve Coeur Airport.

Three laps with the instructor are done. Now he is on his own. It will all be over in 20 minutes.  This will be his first solo flight. His normal confidence has faltered. The nerves have been building up over his first three laps and he’s now shaky as the instructor departs. He will be in the air on his own. No backup. 

He knows that his instructor wouldn’t let him solo if he wasn’t ready. His confidence returns the second his wheels are off the ground. This was no different than usual. He has done this before.

His dad waits for him on the ground, eyes dusted with tears, face filled with pride. This is a big moment. It’s a moment that proves his son is more mature than he had once thought. 

“It’s exciting. It’s impressive. It’s a little bit scary. It’s a really neat thing as a dad to observe,” Jon Crackel said.

Flying is an interest that both Isaac Crackel and his dad have shared for a while. A trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to attend a fly-in event ended up being a memorable one for both parties as this became a turning point for both of them. Shortly after, Isaac received a scholarship from his Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) chapter. Both of these events led to his official decision that he was going to learn to fly. 

“It kind of felt unreal because there’s also many other candidates, but I was picked,” Isaac said. “So it kind of felt unreal and crazy. I guess in a word, grateful.”

Isaac Crackel flies out of Creve Coeur Airport where he has worked for three months. Crackel is apart of the Independent Aviation Solutions Flight School that is based out of Creve Coeur Airport. (Credit to Ankita Pandurangi)

He was chosen by his EAA chapter to receive the Ray Aviation Scholarship. According to Jon, his determination, advanced knowledge in ground school and volunteer work within the chapter made him the best candidate to receive the scholarship. Without this $10,000 scholarship, Isaac likely wouldn’t have been able to learn how to fly.

“I don’t necessarily have the budget because it’s not a requirement for him to study and suddenly become a pilot,” Jon said. “So as a parent, I have other responsibilities in life. To fork out the cost of flight lessons for a 16 year old is not the biggest priority in my life by any measure. While I would happily do it, it’s just a lot of money. So really, this [scholarship] made a difference in the ability for this to happen for him.”

Jon wasn’t going to learn to fly. It wasn’t a requirement in his life. Flight lessons and renting planes is expensive. He would much rather spend that money for his son to do it instead of for himself. Isaac knew how much his dad wanted to learn to fly and that he was sacrificing his own chance to learn. Isaac told his dad that he wanted him to learn too, so he agreed. Since Jon is learning at the same time as Isaac, they are able to benefit from each other’s knowledge and compare notes on subjects from ground school.

“To me, it’s exciting because we can share each other’s milestones, victories and I can share with him what I’m learning, he can share with me what he’s learning,” Jon said. “So there’s so much overlap between our various studies that you know, I think it’s motivating to both of us.”

Multiple discovery flights were taken to find the right person to teach Isaac how to fly, but he found the person who was right for the job. Corey Moats would be Isaac’s instructor. Moats was determined to be the best fit for him, he was the person Isaac felt most comfortable with out of all his discovery flights. 

“I chose him because I felt like he was just the easiest person to talk to,” Isaac said. “Easiest person for me to get along with. All instructors probably would have helped me, but he’s the person that shows just because he’s easy to talk to. And he knows everything I need to know.”

Isaac started his flight lessons in August, but his flight instructor believes that most people would not be able to tell he has only been doing this a couple months while watching him fly. He is confident on the radios, has done his groundwork and has so much energy while flying. He may even be better at flying a plane than driving a car.

“Everything he does impresses me and he’s doing much better than the average student,” Moats said. “I love flying with Isaac, he’s a fun kid to fly with.”

While some people may think that the hard part would be the actual flying itself, this is not the case for Isaac. Ground school is where his difficulties lie, specifically in weather, both in learning and in practice. But all of these struggles are worth the reward of being able to fly. 

“Even though you have to do the ground part of it and learn about some boring stuff like weather and engines, when you get to fly you realize it’s all worth it because the feeling of flight is just something you can’t get anywhere else,” Isaac said.

While he may be ready to take the test for his pilot’s license, it will be a little bit before he actually can. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that he be 17 years old in order to get a pilot’s license and he won’t be 17 until July. Isaac has to bide his time until he is old enough, planning when he takes his flights carefully so that he is experienced and in practice when it comes time to take the test, but doesn’t use up all the hours the scholarship has provided him. 

“There can be hard times when flying and learning how to fly, none of it is hard because it’s all enjoyable,” Isaac said. “The hardest part for me was waiting until I’m old enough to fly, honestly.”