Wings Over the Mojave


The Aviation and Space club hit the runway at Whiteman Airport for its 4th Annual Mojave Desert Fly-in on Nov. 21. The pilots took flight early that morning, some making two trips to pick up more than 35 passengers who experienced the thrill of flight over the San Gabriel Mountains to their destination in the desert.

Flight instructor and club adviser Edwin Sahakian piloted his six-passenger private jet, a Cessna Citation Mustang C510, to the event and eight or nine others flew a variety of small prop planes.

The group met for breakfast at the airport’s restaurant and then toured the grounds at Mojave Air and Space Port, including the Masten Space Systems facility, where rocket systems engineer Eric Franks showed off an experimental rocket called Xodiac.

“I’ve been organizing and enjoying these fly-ins for three years now. I’ll never forget the first year when I got to fly in a jet out to Mojave. From then on I was seriously hooked,” said club president Jonny Hyman.
Hyman attended private pilot ground school on campus, and then returned a few years later to study aerodynamics and aircraft structure, navigation and technically advanced aircraft.

“I seriously debated doing my flight training at GCC due to their awesome fleet and wonderful instructors, but I missed the window to sign up for [flight training],” Hyman said. “I ended up training at various flight schools throughout the valley.”

Ground training instructor Mel Futrell is the first female instructor in Glendale’s aviation department history. She is one of the club’s advisers and brought her connections and networks in the aerospace industry with her.

“I am the one that brought in Eric Franks as a guest speaker who went with us and gave us the tour of Masten Space Systems,” said Futrell. “I have other speakers in the aerospace and space industry who have spoken or are scheduled to speak next semester, and I’m also organizing a fly-in to Palo Alto, where we will tour Zee Aero, another private space Industry upstart.”

Arturo Coronel, vice president of the club, has been a licensed pilot since 2014 who also took his ground training at GCC.

“The aviation department at Glendale is a bit of a well kept secret in town,” said Coronel. “You can get your license for a relatively inexpensive price. The instructors here are very friendly and knowledgeable.”

Coronel summed up the experience of flight as an art form.
“We get to see the greatest piece of art our lives will ever see,” said Coronel. “The planet earth from the air is the only way you can really see the wonder for what it is, I encourage any and every one to fly!”