Ihave fond memories of my dad driving me to the airport near my hometown in New Jersey. Even at age 7, I was amazed by the sight of jets gracefully drifting toward the Earth, softly touching down on the runway and ever so quickly returning to the sky. I was inspired. Although this was one of my first experiences with flight, I knew I wanted to
be a pilot someday.
Airplanes remained a passion — one I shared with my dad
— but it was not until I arrived at Bucknell that I began to
seriously pursue my aviation aspirations. During RA training
my junior year, I discovered that my good friend and fellow
RA Michel Ajjan ’ 14 was an intern at Penn Valley Airport
in Selinsgrove. Michel encouraged me to visit the airport and
take a flight lesson. One hourlong lesson turned into two,
and two turned into countless hours in the cockpit. By April
2014, I had logged 40 hours of flight time, qualifying me to
be a certificated private pilot.
By my senior year, I had enjoyed many memorable flights
with friends around the Susquehanna Valley, including an
unforgettable fall flight over Bucknell at sunset. To see the
beauty of our campus from a new perspective, as the sky
faded to darkness, was surreal.
This spring, I had a sizable gap between graduation and
my start date as an associate business analyst at Southwest
Airlines. I had a feeling of indebtedness to all the people
who’d helped me achieve my high-flying dreams, so I decided
to introduce others to the joys of flying. A sky trip across
the eastern United States with fellow pilot Zach Ross ’ 17,
during which we could serve as aviation ambassadors, could
do just that.
Zach and I flew out of Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass.,
on June 12 and began making our way in a Piper Warrior III
down the East Coast to Florida and back — a journey of
more than 3,000 nautical miles. Along the way, we met with
members of Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs, sharing our
passion for aviation with a new generation.
During these breaks from our long hours in the cockpit,
Zach and I had experiences we’ll never forget, including an
ice-cream social in Columbia, S.C., where we met 20 aviators,
and a tour of the Piper Aircraft factory in Vero Beach, Fla.
By the time we returned to Bedford June 19, we had logged
more than 30 hours of
flying time and met more
than 100 young people.
One of the most
enthusiastic was a boy I
Seeing his excitement made me feel like a kid again, back
at the airport with my dad. I remembered that moment 15
years ago when my admiration for the pilots in the sky was
Colin Hassell ’ 15, a mechanical engineering major from Aberdeen, N.J., was
president of his class for four years.
Becoming a pilot was not a pie-in-
the-sky dream for a young alumnus.
He found his wings at Bucknell.
By Colin Hassell ’ 15
a passion — one I
shared with my dad.
Colin Hassell ’ 15