The sky’s the limit

Marquette Senior High School graduate earns pilot’s license

Zita Jameson, a recent graduate of Marquette Senior High School, has earned her private pilotÕs license. She plans to study engineering at the University of Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Zita Jameson)

MARQUETTE — Zita Jameson has seen the world in ways many of her peers never will.

The recent Marquette Senior High School graduate in May earned her private pilot’s license, which allows her to take to the sky — a skill not every teen possesses.

Jameson became interested in flying through her father, who earned his pilot’s license in high school as well. Her aunt and grandfather also had licenses.

“I guess I come from a family of pilots,” Jameson said in an email.

However, flying wasn’t on her radar, so to speak, until her junior year in high school.

After being introduced to aviation via Greg Durand, president of the Marquette County Flying Club, through a Young Eagles flight, Jameson knew her love for flying would exceed her sports involvement.

“It became my new ‘high school sport,'” Jameson said.

She flew through the MCFC, receiving instruction from the father-son duo of Bill and Jake Van Effen.

Jameson has high praise for her teachers.

“I adore them,” she said. “They are the reason I was able to achieve all that I have — they are kind, encouraging and fun.”

Bill Van Effen, owner of Van Effen Field in Rock, thinks highly of his former pupil.

“She was highly intelligent, and was not afraid to ask a question — very, very considerate, and talented and easy to work with,” the elder Van Effen said.

He also believes young people pick up things quickly — and it probably helped that Jameson wanted to learn about flying in a big way.

“It’s way easier to teach a person who wants to do it rather than someone who’s lukewarm,” Bill Van Effen said.

Lessons with Jameson, he noted, involved preliminary ground instruction and a “debriefing” at the end. The airplane of choice was a Cessna 150.

Jameson, however, acknowledged time management was a struggle.

That’s for sure, if you see the list of her activities.

“This past year is when I began flying multiple times a week,” she said. “At school, I was enrolled in six Advanced Placement courses and averaged three to four hours of homework a night.”

She prides herself, though, in her community and school involvement, having served as treasurer of the Key Club, a member of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Marquette Youth Advisory Committee and youth representative on the board of the Community Foundation of Marquette County.

On top of all that, she was applying and preparing for college.

“I had to make decisions on how I would use my time,” Jameson said. “I found doing everything is possible as long as you really want it. I certainly did. During this past spring, I donated every available minute and day to either flying or studying material for my private pilot tests.”

The first step in her journey to becoming a licensed private pilot after receiving instruction was her initial solo flight, which took place on Dec. 7 — the first day she flew without one of her instructors.”

That “amazing” flight, Jameson said, was something she’ll remember the rest of her life.

“From there I continued practicing flights with and without my instructors,” she said. “We began working on perfecting maneuvers and studying for the private pilot knowledge exam.”

Jameson took that exam in April in Traverse City.

Then on May 17, she and Bill Van Effen flew to downstate Cadillac so she could take her private pilot oral exam and check ride.

Of course, she passed.

Jameson, though, doesn’t plan to stay on the ground.

“To me, the best thing about flying is perceptive,” she said. “I have learned a lot about myself through the process and am excited to learn more.”

Jameson also has seen parts of the Upper Peninsula from a different vantage point.

“Seeing the beautiful U.P. — especially in the autumn — from the sky is breathtaking,” she said. “Furthermore, I learned a lot about pushing myself. Time and effort will take you far if you truly want them to. It is all about what you put into it.”

Jameson plans to attend the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in engineering, and looks forward to continuing her aviation career through the university’s club, the Michigan Flyers, as well as the Ann Arbor Flyers.

“I hope my love for flying will not fade and that I will always be a current pilot,” she said. “I’m excited to achieve higher rankings throughout my years and continue to grow as an individual.”

One of her former instructors has faith in her ambitions.

“I know she’ll go far,” Bill Van Effen said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.